Our Family

Our Family

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Yesterday as I sat in the waiting room at the Doctor's office, I overheard part of a conversation from a woman who was there for her 6 week check-up with an adorable baby girl. She told a lady with her that she had started out wanting to breastfeed, but when the baby wanted to nurse every 1 and a half hours she decided that she didn't have enough milk and switched to formula. I have heard similar comments from many first time moms and think this is sad. A newborn baby's stomach is the size of their fist and because breast milk is so much easier to digest than formula, breastfed babies do eat more often then formula fed babies. This does not mean you are not producing enough milk. Actually, the more your baby will nurse in the first few weeks, the better it is for you. Frequent nursing helps shrink your uterus after giving birth, helps prevent engorgement, and increases your milk supply. Not to mention all of the medical benefits it has for your baby. Here are a couple of tips to make breastfeeding more successful.

1. Read books about breastfeeding to educate yourself about what is normal and the How To's of breastfeeding.
2. Nurse your baby whenever they will nurse.
3. Get plenty of rest after having a baby. Sleep when your baby sleeps (especially if you only have one)
4. Eat well-balanced meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
5. Drink lots of water. Breastfeeding makes me very thirsty. I always keep a large thermos full of water and have it beside me while I am nursing.
6. Expect that your baby will lose a little bit of weight after he is born. It is normal for them to lose 10% of their body weight, and they start gaining again after a couple of days.
7. The nurses in the hospital are there to help you. Ask for help to get the baby to latch on or for any questions you might have.
8. Avoid giving the baby a bottle of a pacifier for the first couple of weeks.
9. If the baby is having a hard time latching on, try the football hold (this always works for me)
10. Don't give up! Breastfeeding is best for you and your baby. Any time you try something new you have to practice before you know what you are doing. In a couple of weeks you will be an old pro at this parenting, breastfeeding thing. You are doing a great job so hang in there!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tasty Tuesday: Alex's Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 cups flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup butter melted and slightly cooled
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 bag chocolate chips

1. Stir together dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients in another.
2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients stirring just to combine. Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Spoon into greased muffin cups.
4. Bake 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.
5. Serve warm or cool. These muffins freeze well.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Morning Project: The Easiest Kite Ever

We did a really fun and easy project this morning. Not only was it fun and easy, but it included teaching a wide variety of subjects. One simple craft taught: reading, following directions, math (measuring), science (experimenting to see what would make the kite go higher), Art, and PE. We made Family Fun's Easiest Kite Ever p.88 of the March Magazine or www.familyfun.com/magazine. We made a few changes to the supplies because we did not have any ribbon so we used streamers instead and instead of embroidery floss we used regular yarn for the cord. It only took a few minutes to make and the children flew these kites outside for over an hour even with very little wind. I had some better pictures, but for some reason they wouldn't load.

Early Education

During the last several months I have seen many articles on the need for "Education Reform." Clearly the public education system is not as good as it should be and there are changes that need to be made. I personally am of the opinion that no matter how many changes are made there is nothing that is going to "fix" public education. It cannot be fixed because that is not the way children are meant to learn. One of the things that concerns me though is the growing trend to push children into "formal" learning at younger and younger ages. One of the articles I read talked about the need for more Head Start programs at earlier ages with more formal learning. They already take them at 3-4 years old how much earlier can you get? People were disgusted that the children in these programs were not sitting down and learning anything. Instead they were able to play for 3 or more hours a day. Does anyone remember when Kindergarten ages (5-6) was nothing more than a half day of playing? 3 and 4 year old children should spend their whole day playing.

Even in church I have noticed that people are sending their children at younger ages to Sunday School. I teach a Pre-school Sunday School Class geared for 4-5 year olds with short lessons and a fun craft. Lately, we have been getting children as young as 2 because they shouldn't be "wasting" their time playing in the nursery. They need to be learning something.

I don't think that children at these ages require any kind of "formal" learning. My children all learned to walk, talk, feed themselves without me ever sitting them at a table and telling them how to do it or giving them a worksheet on it. The best way for children to learn is by observing what is going on around them and through their play. Anthony (3) knows all of his numbers 1-10, alphabet, colors and shapes but I never sat him down and taught it to him. He learned by listening to me read and by playing with him. I remember when Nick learned that if you mix white and red it makes pink. I could have sat him down and taught it to him, but instead he discovered it by himself when he mixed ranch dressing with ketchup on his dinner plate and he was delighted with the discovery. If we continue to push children at an early age, all of their love of learning is going to disappear. Instead, learning is going to be for them part of the boring monotony that many of our older children face every day.

Friday, February 20, 2009

4-H Breads Contest

Yesterday was the annual 4-H Breads contest, so we did not do our "regular" schoolwork. Instead we had lots of fun lessons in the kitchen (math, science, reading, health, clean-up etc) as Chelsea, Nick, and Alex each made their own bread recipes. There were several categories to choose from and each child could enter up to 3 categories, but because of cost of supplies and a limit of time I only let the children enter 1 category each. Chelsea decided to make Yeast Rolls, Nick made Cinnamon Rolls, and Alex made Chocolate Chip Muffins. They all did a great job making their recipes and we taste tested each one when they were finished. Chelsea won 1st prize for her rolls, Nick won second prize for his, and Alex got a participation ribbon for his. Alex was a little disappointed at the contest because they only announced 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners of each category and so he didn't think he was going to get a ribbon. He was much happier when he did get a ribbon like Nick and Chelsea. It is fun to cook for a contest, but I also want when children to learn and remember that the ribbon doesn't really matter. They all had a great time cooking and that is the important part.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Baby Shower

Monday night some friends of mine gave me a Baby Shower. It was a great way to get out of the house and spend some time with friends without our children. I got some really sweet little girl things like hair bows, frilly socks, shoes, and pink blankets, clothes and sleepers. Along with that I also got some important practical items like diapers and wipes. It was very sweet of them to give me a shower and now I just can't wait until I have the baby to put her in all of the sweet clothes. Only a few more weeks to go!

Tasty Tuesday: Homemade Hot Pockets

Homemade Hot Pockets taste much better than the frozen ones at the store, and they are easy to make for lunch or supper. They also freeze and microwave really well.

1.Make a batch of your favorite biscuit dough.
2.Divide the dough in half and roll out onto a lightly floured surface.
3.Using a butter knife slice the dough into sections depending on how big you want your hot pockets. I divide it into 5 sections giving me a total of 10 per batch of dough.
4.Fill with 2-3 TBSP of your desired filling using pre-cooked meats like: ham and cheese, chicken broccoli and cheese, or meatballs, sauce and cheese.
5.Fold in half, match the edges and pinch them closed all the way around.
6.Freeze until ready to bake, or bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monday Morning Project: 4-H Cloverbud Journals

This week our Cloverbud Journals are due for 4-H. The Cloverbuds are a group of 4-H children ages 5-8. It was designed to start introducing the children t0 what kind of things they will be working on as they get into the older 4-H groups ages 9-19. My boys really enjoy the different kinds of fun things they get to do as a Cloverbud, and Chelsea also enjoys her 4-H group. The journals are a record of what the children have worked on during the year, and since they are due on Wednesday, we used our project time to finish them yesterday while Anthony and Christian colored. They have to list what their main project and other projects are along with their Community Service, Leadership, and other activities they do besides 4-H. They also draw or attach pictures showing what they have done throughout the year. They did a good job and it only took about 20 minutes to complete.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Christian's Big Boy Bed

Friday night was Christian's first night in his big boy bed. At first he was very excited to be going to bed with the boys, but that wore off pretty quickly and he began wandering around the room and playing in the closet. I did have to go up and lay down with him for a little while to settle him down. He fell asleep and slept through the night, even after he fell out of bed. Art and I heard a thump about 11:00 and there he was on the floor. He was still asleep so we put him back into bed. I couldn't believe he fell out even with the bed rail. My husband, the engineer, got some zip ties and made the rail more secure so it can't fall out again. Since Friday Christian has been sleeping fine, but I still am laying down with him for a little while to keep him from climbing in and out of bed. I hope after a week or so he will be more used to it and I won't have to do this anymore.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Preparing for the New Baby

I can't believe how fast this pregnancy is going. I keep thinking I have lots of time left when in reality we only have 5 1/2 weeks until my due date. I went to the doctor yesterday and I am 1 cm dilated. That's not anything too exciting but because I am having alot of Braxton-Hicks contractions she wants me to take it easy for the next couple of weeks. I have never had a baby early and don't intend to this time either, but I realized there are some things I need to take care of soon.

1. Christian has to be moved out of the crib into a big boy bed. Usually I would have done this already. I have been procrastinating because he is such a good sleeper and I am afraid putting him in a new bed will mess that up. Also, I am not looking forward to the couple of days of chasing him back to bed when he realizes he can get out. But, we are going to make the switch this week-end.

2. I would like to get some meals frozen and in the freezer for after the baby comes. I am very blessed to be able to have my mom and dad come for about a week after the baby is born, and to have friends that will provide meals for a few days after that. But, I would like to have some food stocked up for at least another week while I am still recovering and figuring out the baby's schedule. You know how it is when you are trying to make dinner and just when you get started you have a screaming infant.

3. I have to pack my bag for the hospital, and a bag for the children in case I have to drop them off somewhere. Again, I wait for the last minute usually, but I do not want to leave this chore up to my husband.

4. I have to buy some infant diapers.

5. I need to get some clothes ready. While shopping last week-end I bought an outfit to bring her home from the hospital and a few pink sleepers. I still have that little voice in the back of my head that wonders if the tech was wrong and the baby might be a boy, so I am hesitant to take the tags off of some other clothing and bedding my mom bought for me. I have started to go through my baby clothes and pull out all of the neutral colored clothing.

6. The house needs to be cleaned. This is an ongoing chore of course and is never completely cleaned.
I am sure this list will grow as I think of more things that need to be done.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Easy Valentine Holders

After going to 4 different stores yesterday to pick up Valentines for the children (everyone was sold out that's what I get for waiting) we sat down to fill out the cards. After they were done we made heart carriers to put our Valentines in. We took two pieces of construction paper and folded them in half together. Then we drew half a heart shape on the fold and cut them out. We put the hearts together and used a hole punch to put holes on the side and bottom and wove a piece of yarn to seal them up. Last we taped a handle inside the top of the heart and we had quick, easy, and cheap carriers for our Valentines.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Christian's First Haircut

All of our boys have been really slow to grow hair. Nick and Alex were both 3 before they had their first haircut, and Anthony at 3 1/2 has still not had one (unless you count the day Alex cut off the ends of his curls.) Christian's hair has always had a lot of hair and it has grown a lot lately, so while we were at my parent's house over the week-end he got his first haircut. He did a good job, but got tired of sitting still pretty fast. I can't believe how grown up it makes him look. My baby has turned into a little man over night.

Owl Moon Lapbook

We finished the Five in a Row book Owl Moon last Thursday, and this is the lapbook Nick created out of what he had learned. The first page is the painting he did of an Owl in a

Tree. The second page is a notebooking page titled the Great Horned Owl. We filled in facts about the owl such as: What does it eat? Where does it live? What kind of feet, mouth, body covering? How does it protect itself? Is it a mammal, bird, reptile, or fish? Does it give birth to live young or lay eggs? The next page is the poem The Owl by L. Alma-Tadema and Nick copied it on the lines below. Then we did a lesson on What is a Simile? and Units of Time which Nick glued on the next page. The last page was a coloring page on the State Flower and Bird of New Jersey.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Home Sweet Home

For the week-end, we headed to North West Arkansas to go and visit my parents. My mom and dad wanted to tile their kitchen counters and my dad needed some help. Art has done a couple of other tile projects so we headed up there to help. The children were great on the road. They are pretty well traveled so 3 1/2 hours is pretty easy for them. Art and my dad worked on the kitchen all week-end while my mom and I entertained the children. The kitchen turned out great! I was quite impressed with the children, not only for their good behavior, but also because they took it upon themselves to help clean up my mom and dad's back yard. About 2 weeks ago NWA had a really bad ice storm that led to power outages and trees down everywhere. There are still people in some areas without power. On Sunday when I sent the children out to play, they spent the afternoon stacking up branches that had come down. I thought that was a great way to help their Papa and they didn't even have to be asked to do it. We had a great time visiting, but it is always nice to be back home.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Medical Insurance

I remember when I was pregnant with Chelsea, and insurance covered the WHOLE thing right down to the prenatal vitamins. Even 5 years later when I had Nick, I had one small co-pay and the rest was covered at 100%. Those days are gone and with every baby we have we are paying more money for insurance with higher deductibles and less coverage. I have had a horrible time with the billing people from my doctor's office this time. She works in a large clinic with many different kinds of physicians that share the same billing people. At the beginning of my pregnancy I was contacted before my first appointment to let me know how much I would be required to pay and by when. I was also told if I could not make the payments they designated my appointments would be rescheduled until I could. I was very angry about this, but I love my doctor and after having 6 different OBGYN's over the last several years due to moves I was not willing to change again. Just when I finally had everything worked out, Art's company changed insurance. So I had to start all over again with the billing people. I will spare you all of the details of the MANY phone calls, and arguments over what I would be required to prepay. To anyone else facing the same battles with DR's offices over insurance I have some advice. Know exactly what your benefits are. Do not take the word of a billing person at an office without double checking your benefits out yourself. In my case, if I had listened to her, I would be prepaying an extra $600 unnecessarily.

Tasty Tuesday: Cinnamon Rolls

I like to make Cinnamon Rolls on Saturday night for a quick and easy breakfast on Sunday morning. I used to do this every week before I was pregnant, but I got away from it for a little while. Last week-end my oven and stove were out of commission so it was cold cereal for us, but the week before I made Cinnamon Rolls using part of my old recipe and combining it with part of the recipe for A Better Cinnamon Roll in Family Fun magazine. These were the best cinnamon rolls I have ever made.

In the Bread Machine:

3/4 cup warm milk
1 large egg
4 TBSP butter
3 cups flour ( I use 1 1/2 cups whole wheat and 1 1/2 cups all purpose)
3 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast

Put on dough setting and let rise. When cycle is finished place on floured surface and knead for 1 minute then let rest for 15. Roll dough out into a rectangle. Then spread on your filling.

For the filling combine:

4 TBSP softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 TBSP cinnamon

Roll up the dough to make a long cylinder and pinch the ends closed, then cut into one inch pieces. Place in a greased 9x13 pan and let rise 30-45 minutes. Bake in a 375 oven for 20-25 minutes. Cool for about 15 minutes then drizzle with icing. I let them cool then cover them to wait and ice in the morning.


1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 TBSP milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

If the icing is too thick to drizzle add a little extra milk a drop at a time until it is the right consistency

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday Morning Project: Owl in a Tree Painting

Well, we survived the stomach bug (don't ask.) The house has been disinfected, the couch is put back together, and the laundry is almost caught up. Today we are trying to get things back to normal. Our Monday Morning Project this week to go along with our Five in a Row book, Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, was to do a painting of an owl in a tree. I got this project out of the Usborne Big Book of Playtime Activities. First, the boys used water colors to paint the background yellow and orange mixed with a little red. Then they painted in the tree, branches, and the owl on the branch. Nick followed the book exactly (that's how he is) and Alex wanted his to look just like Nick's. Anthony painted a whole sheet of paper pink, and Christian was painting red streaks. Chelsea was in the middle of some other schoolwork and did not want to stop until she had finished what she started. The owl pictures will go into the lapbook we are working on for Owl Moon.