September 2012 – Month 9

September 2012 – Month 9

Robbie found this cool stick (he is always finding cool sticks to swing around) at Iola Winter Sports Club on the day we were doing some trail clean up after a big storm.  It made him think of deer antlers.

robbie cool stick IWSC

Charlie made this wooden car in the workshop with Papa.

Nola Mae w Charlie's wooden car

I scored this Nordic Ware bundt pan at a rummage sale for $1.  We needed a reason to try it out, Susie’s birthday cake!

cake castle susie

And the boys decorated it.

cake castle susie decorated

Nola Mae has decided that she can go down the stairs forward.

Nola Mae stairs

She often gets comfortable in the upside down stool.  I wonder how long this will last.

stool nola mae

Something gross…someone opened a gogurt in my sewing room and it squirted on the wall.  I didn’t notice it until the yogurt was dried up and Nola Mae was scrapping it off and eating it.

yogurt on wall Nola Mae

The weekend of my birthday we met some of our family for a picnic, playing on the rocks and hiking at Eau Claire Dells.

Eau Claire Dells Boys log 2013

Eau Claire Dells Boys 2013

My beautiful sister, Becca.

Eau Claire Dells Becca  2013

We were here five years ago.  We took this photo inside this tree trunk (Henry was in my belly and Charlie and Henry were so little and so cute). 

Eau Claire Dells tree trunk 2008

 This year we did the same pose, notice the difference in the tree trunk.

Eau Claire Dells Family 2013

On my birthday (because I wanted to sleep in) I took the boys to school.  When I came home I notice one of the power lines in front of our house was down.   Thankfully it was a wire that was not “live”.  I called the electric company to tell them and secretly hoped my favorite linemen would show up.  I have a couple of favorites because I use to work there many years ago.  Did they know it was my birthday?  My two favorite guys showed up!

linemen Dick

linemen Alie

I went to my 25th class reunion and made the cake for the dinner.

cake 25th class reunion

My mom and Helen helped take care of the kids while Jack and I went to dinner and stayed late for visiting.  Robbie and Charlie slept over at Helen’s house.  We left Nola Mae and Henry at my mom’s at 4:30 and came home at 12:30.  This was the longest amount of time I have ever been away from Nola Mae.  She woke up looking for me just as we were coming down the road.

 We went to our favorite park, Keller Lake, as usual we had the park to ourselves!

keller lake Robbie

keller lake Charlie

keller lake Nola Mae slide

keller lake Nola Mae climbing

keller lake four kids

My Favorite pictures from this month:

Charlie & Nola Mae sad girl

Henry serious face

Mystique

Nola Mae Watermelon

Nola Mae

From my garden:

I didn’t get to braiding my garlic this year before it really dried out.  So the stems got chopped and I put a notice on Facebook that I had garlic for sale and 11.5 pounds sold within six hours.  Thank you to all my friends, enjoy!

garlic 2013

September 7th I picked my first batch of tomatoes, two of these boxes came from Susie’s garden.  I have already canned 21 quarts of tomato paste and have a gallon bag of dried tomatoes.

tomatoes first picking 2013

By September 12th my raspberries were ripening like crazy and still going strong at the end of the month.   I have about two gallon sized bags in the freezer, so far.

garden raspberries 2013

The mullein has gone crazy in my garden where the garlic was this year.  I am thinking I will be planting the garlic for next year around these plants because there is no way I am tilling them up!

garden mullein 2013

On September 20th we picked all our Honey Crisp apples.  I wanted them to stay on the trees a little longer but with every windy day many would fall off the tree.  Our other tree is still loaded and I will be  picking those later in October to make applesauce.

apples Honey Crisp 2013

Sunflowers

garden sunflowers

garden sunflower autumn mix

We have seen this little frog on the house, on our window and on the door at night.  I found him in my Autumn Joy Sedum during the day.

Garden sedum frog

We have let the chickens roam the yard this fall, Henry took this photo.

chicken barred rock

Climbing the rocks in my flower garden.

garden rocks Henry and Nola Mae

Charlie is a great big brother and very helpful, he loves to wear Nola Mae.

wrap DIY Charlie & Nola Mae

I got out my baby wearing vest for one of our hikes.  It was chilly but not chilly enough for me.  It was perfect for keeping Nola Mae warm.

wrap Mei Tai w vest sept walk

My friend Sara and I with our matching Zara Velvet wraps.

wrap two Zara Velvets w Sara

I washed my light rainbow wrap, it looked so pretty on the line I had to take a photo.

wrap light rainbow diamond weave clothes line

Baby Doll

If you know me well, you know I love my lactation consultant, Sandy, and think every mother with a new baby (breastfed or formula fed) should attend a baby group like the one she facilitates, or LLL (Le Leche League) meeting or a moms’ group.  I was almost a
failure in my breastfeeding with my oldest child and youngest child.  But,
thanks to the amazing support I received from Sandy, the moms in the baby
group, my friends, and my family, I succeeded.  Robbie and I made it last until he was 16 months old.  Nola Mae and I are still going strong at 17 months.  You can read Robbie’s story here and Nola Mae’s story here.

What does this have to do with a baby doll?

Here is the story:

I was at one of Sandy’s baby groups, the topic was baby wearing. A friend of mine was teaching/demonstrating with a doll weighted with bee bees so the doll was more real to life.  Sandy thought that kind of baby would be helpful to her when she is teaching the breastfeeding class and childbirth class at Riverside Medical, demonstrating baby wearing and while working with moms/dads; she can show things while the mom/dad holds their baby.   I told her I could try to figure out how to make one of those babies for her.  Now I can do something to help Sandy and other future breastfeeding mothers!

I am the queen of cheapness!  I try to make Do It Yourself (DIY) things all the time!  Why not with this project?  I was searching rummage sales, Goodwill and St. Vinnie’s stores for many months.  In August I hit the jack-pot at St. Vinnie’s in Marshfield with their “50% off sale”.  I completed this project by only spending $1.25, the baby has “2.50” marked on the left foot.

I started with this baby doll, cut open the body to see how things looked on the inside.  Next time I will open the seams where the legs are attached to the body.

baby doll

I cut the seams that were holding the arms and legs on.  And needed to make the body a little bigger to hold the insides.  The pink fabric was given to me.

baby doll body

I gathered rocks for the head.  I put them in a sack so they wouldn’t bang around inside the head. Next time I will put more weight in the head.

baby doll rocks for head

I gathered pea gravel, washed and rinsed it.

baby doll rocks for body

I made pouches for the arms and legs to have sections full of rocks, with stuffing added to soften and round out the arms and legs.  Arms weigh about 3.5 ounces each.  Next time I will make the arms heavier.

baby doll parts arms

The legs are about 5 ounces each.  Next time I will make the legs heavier.

baby doll parts legs

A pouch for the body cavity weighs four pounds.

baby doll parts body

All the parts here are ready for me to put the baby back together.  I made a second sack for the body and stuffed the stuffing in to soften the body.

baby doll parts

At this point I was hoping clothes or a sleeper on this baby doll will make the shoulders and attached limbs look more real.

baby doll pins

I was unable to sew the last seam with my sewing machine.  Nola Mae wanted to sit on my lap while I sewed.  Many times she kissed the baby’s foot.

baby doll toe kisses

Done!

baby doll finished 1

Dressed!

baby doll finished 2

This baby is looking pretty real and feels real, not the eight pound baby I was hoping for.  The final weight is 6 pounds 5 ounces.

I had the baby on the chair for the above photo.  Nola Mae climbed up for some cuddling.

baby doll Nola Mae smile

This makes me think she has to have her own weighted baby doll.

baby doll Nola Mae squeeze

After the big squeeze, she started to pat the baby on the back.

baby doll Nola Mae pats

Then kisses!

baby doll Nola Mae kisses

Henry needed a turn for some cuddling and

baby doll Henry hug

baby wearing in the Mei Tai.

baby doll Henry Mei Tai

After this baby doll was finished I went to my sewing room to clean up a little, I looked outside my window and saw Henry carrying the baby down the driveway to meet the bus.

When the fourth baby arrives…

When your fourth baby arrives you think you know how to be a “good” mom and you think you are a “pro”.

kids in basket

When your fourth baby comes out a girl (after three boys), prepare yourself for some serious shock, surprise, denial, depression and acceptance.

When you have breastfed three other children for a total of 6 1/2 years you SHOULD know a lot of things about breastfeeding when your fourth baby comes.

When your fourth baby doesn’t cry or fuss you celebrate that you have the “perfect baby”, the fourth baby is a charm!

checkers

When your fourth baby is a “good sleeper” you celebrate.  You are happy to get a few consecutive hours of sleep.  You enjoy the quality time with your other children during those naptimes.

When your fourth baby doesn’t gain any weight you start to worry…

Nola Mae 1 wk weight

We knew something was wrong when Nola Mae was about five or six weeks old.  I was getting frequent weights checks at different places.  There were different weights on the scales at the clinic, with my midwives and at baby group.  We didn’t worry too much because there would be differences in those scales.   Sandy, my lactation consultant, was concerned because none of the scales were showing any weight gain.  Which led me to start seeing her regularly for about a month at the hospital.  (I wrote about Sandy & my struggles with breastfeeding my 1st baby, click here to read that story.)

Tandem breastfeeding

Since I was tandem nursing Henry and Nola Mae I was being careful not to breastfeed Henry for long periods of time or regularly.   I heard my family’s comments and concerns that if I tandem nursed Nola Mae wouldn’t get enough.

For a week I kept track of when both of them would breastfeed and I continued to distract Henry when he would request to “nuk” and I would make sure Nola Mae nursed on each side.  It was very interesting to see I was spending at least seven hours each day breastfeeding and very frequently and there was hardly any weight gained.

I did the weight test to see how much milk Nola Mae was getting in a typical feeding.  First you weigh the baby, nurse for a “normal” feeding, then weigh the baby again.  With the very accurate scale that my lactation consultant has we found out that Nola Mae’s total intake of breast milk was 1.8 ounces in a 15 minute latch.   This was very bad news!  Where did my milk go?

Sandy suggested I take fenugreek.  I went straight to the Nutrition Center in Waupaca and bought a bottle (without looking at the price), opened it in the car and took my first capsule at 11:30 AM.  At 4:30 PM my milk had arrived and I was feeling very “full”.

Side note:  I NEVER purchase anything EVER without looking at the price, until I had this bottle in my hand.  I didn’t really care how much this bottle would cost me.  I needed to make more milk for my baby!   I pay attention to everything I spend my money on.  I don’t always remember birth dates but I can tell you how much I paid, almost to the cent, for big and small purchases/expenses.   I purchased a total of three bottles of the fenugreek and one bottle of Motherlove:  More Milk Plus (one bottle of this was given to me).   I can’t tell you how much that cost.  Now that I am writing about this I was interested in knowing how much I spent to get my milk to return.  Total spent on the fenugreek and the More Milk Plus – $95.  The cost of weigh-in/consults with lactation consultant, I don’t know this amount.  Our insurance doesn’t pay for the consults, so whatever that cost us I have no idea! 

I wanted to compare my way of getting my milk back to the cost of formula feeding a baby.   I did a quick search on the estimated cost of formula feeding for one year, it’s somewhere around $1,138 – $1,188 plus bottle cost. Also, additional health care services cost the managed care health system between $331 and $475 per never-breastfed infant during the first year of life.

I learned there are two things in this world that I don’t care how much they cost – fenugreek and a skidsteer.   (I was able to convince Jack to stop looking and thinking about the price tags on skidsteers, because he bought me one this summer!)

Back to my story…

I spent the next four days worried, praying, and keeping track of everything.  I also was relived that we were figuring things out.

I had the fenugreek and it was starting to work.  I am very thankful because that isn’t always the case with mothers who are unable to produce enough milk for their baby.

I continued to keep track of her feedings.  I started to realize from my notes that shortly after I sat down to breastfeed Nola Mae all hell would break loose in our house with the older boys.  I would put down my “happy-sleepy” baby and take care of what was needed.  Sometimes it was one of the boys sneaking food out of the pantry (guess who!) just before a meal, or someone was hurt, or someone needed wiping, or fighting started between the boys, just to name a few events that interrupted Nola Mae’s feedings.  When I went back to my baby to finish feeding her, I would find her sleeping.  Never wake a sleeping baby, right?  I should have because I was loosing my milk.

sewing room ready to sew

All this time when she wasn’t getting much milk she wasn’t making that wonderful swallowing noise that babies do when they drink.  How did I miss that?  I started to realize that all this time when she would have a wet diaper it wasn’t full and her BMs weren’t so big.  How did I miss that?  I started to realized that all this time she was sleeping, being one of my happiest babies that maybe she is a very easy-going baby that rarely complained about being hungry.  I was starving her!

At one of my appointments with Sandy, she  said, “Nola Mae when you are the fourth baby you have to speak up!  That means you may have to cry a little.”

I feel blessed to have the four children in my family that I always dreamed of having.  I never expected it to be so difficult.  Four children really put me over the edge during that first year!  And there are many days where life isn’t “easy” for me.  Each of our children teach us many different things throughout our parenting journey.  I feel as though Nola Mae taught me a few things during her first year of life.  I often wonder what kinds of things my fourth baby will teach me in the future.

It has been over a year since I started writing this post, it has been a difficult topic to write and think about.  I will always wonder in my heart,  “what if I would have nursed Henry more often would I have lost my milk?”,  “would Nola Mae’s weight issues been blamed on Henry and our tandem nursing?”, and “would we have experienced this trouble if I nursed Henry and Nola Mae all the time?”  I have healed a little and come to terms with how rough our first year with four children really was.

I found this in my journal notes.   I know a lot of breastfeeding mothers have moments like this but it was really hard for me to accept these feelings and I am surprised I even wrote this down.  “A couple of weeks ago I was ready to quit breastfeeding.  I have a friend who formula feeds and she has such a chunky baby.  Formula fed babies aren’t the only ones that are chunky!   I have a cousin who exclusively breastfeeds her very beautiful chunky baby.   I want some of that chunk on mine!  The fenugreek that I started taking last Thursday is working.   Everyone I talk to about it was impressed that I got such quick results.   My milk is coming back and Nola Mae gained 5 oz. in four days (1 oz./day is “standard”).  I will get the next weight check next Thursday and it seems too long for me to wait. 

All I want to do is nurse her constantly and at the same time I don’t want to be tied down to nursing her and be the sole person responsible for her health and growth.  I have gone back to taking the postpartum supplements because I have been having a lot of moments of ups and downs and not much in the middle. 

It hit me this past weekend that I am in over my head with four kids. Henry was tired, impatient, unreasonable (like any normal tired 3 yr old) and crying, instead of being loving and kind and understanding I screamed at him.  It was horrible!  That was one of my worst moments as a mother.  The root cause I think is from me feeling like a horrible mother who can’t feed her baby my heart is not here.  I was still out of patience that night at bedtime.  Robbie may have been able to tell because he kind of took over with Henry by reading to him and asking him to cuddle with him.  Later I thanked Robbie for being a great big brother and helper to me and he said “well, you’re a great mom.” 

I saw my midwife on Wednesday night.  Jack came home and I left to pick up the postpartum supplements.  When I got to her office she had a lemonade iced tea waiting for me and asked me to stay and talk to her.   I stayed an hour! It was wonderful to talk to her. My week has gotten better. 

I spent the afternoon at the beach with my close friend, Kat.  I didn’t get much deep conversations done because of watching each other kids in the water and visiting with other moms.  But it was nice to be out in the fresh air, watching the boys having so much fun.” 

Nola Mae is still “smaller” than some children her age but she is just as healthy and smart as any 17 month old child.

Nola Mae Watermelon

A great read and a salute to all mothers who do their best every day:    http://ouradoptionfaithwalk.blogspot.com/2013/08/world-breastfeeding-week-salute.html

Mama’s favorites – September 2013

This year I decided I would do a “favorite list” post for each of our kids on their birthday.  I already had a blog post in my drafts that I started in May 2011. 

It is my birthday, today. 

I scheduled this to be published when I was born, at 3:31 AM, 43 years ago.

Robbie & mama

This is my list:

favorite color –  purple

favorite animal – chicken

favorite books – Prodigal Summer and A Midwife’s Story and all the books from My Favorite Books post (recently updated)

favorite movie – The Sound of Music

favorite song – Love Grows One by One

favorite game – Rummy 500, a game my best friend in college taught me.

favorite meal – Fettuccini Alfredo with shrimp

favorite breakfast – Biscuits and gravy

favorite treat – ice cream and/or chocolate

favorite drinks – coffee and any dark beer 

favorite restaurant – Tempura House

favorite toy – my cross-country skis

favorite thing to do – sew

favorite thing to do outside – cross country ski

skiing sled 

favorite thing about school – quiet days for me and great teachers that challenge my kids, and love them.

favorite job – some days it is being a stay-at-home-mom other days it is the awesome jobs I had before I had kids. 

favorite thing to do with Papa – hang out and talk about the funny things that happen during my days.

favorite thing to do with Charlie – organize/sort Legos, sew and read books to him.

Legos Charlie a

favorite thing to do with Henry – teach him everything I know about chickens, gardening and nature and listening to his stories.

Henry w chickens

favorite thing to do with Robbie – cuddle with him, take walks holding his hand, telling him about when he was a little baby and listening to him tell me about the things he loves.

4-4-09 making firewood kiss

 

favorite holiday – I don’t know that I have a favorite, maybe it is Memorial Day and Labor Day because I hate Mondays and those holidays make Mondays feel like the weekend.

favorite place to go – summer-time place:  the waterfalls at the hydro-dam in Big Falls and winter-time place: Iola Winter Sports Club

favorite brother – my only brother!Steve

Where do you want to go on vacation?  –  up north or out east to cross-country ski.

If you could have any super power what would it be? – Give my children the all confidence, health and love they need to be happy, loving, successful, and productive adults.  

My other favorite things:

A good book to read at bedtime.

A bed that is made.

A clothes line full of clean clothes.

The sound of our boys giggling.

The sound of a baby breastfeeding.

The smell of my sweaty body after a long ski.

A berry patch full of berries.

A big stack of firewood.

A beach all to ourselves.

Fresh snow on the trees and on the cross-country ski trails.

Fresh corduroy on the ski trails and being the one to make the first ski tracks.

Back to School 2013

First day of school 2013  

The boys were up at 5:50 AM to get ready for school.  The bus arrives at 6:40, I believe they are the 3rd stop.  Everything went well, so I think tomorrow I will wake them up at 6:00.

A photo with Papa before he left for work.

First day of school 2013 w papa

It was lighter outside when it was time to leave the house for the bus.

Frist day of school 2013

Robbie – Fourth Grade:

First day of school 2013 R

Charlie – Second Grade:  First day of school 2013 C

Henry – 4-year-old Kindergarten:

First day of school 2013 H

Charlie seemed the most excited last night.  He wanted to put on his school clothes before going to bed so he would be closer to being ready in the morning.  When Jack woke him up he was dressed and almost done with his breakfast by the time I got downstairs.

I knew breakfast was going to be a bit challenging for Henry and Robbie.  Henry is not very hungry when he wakes up.  This is how much he ate this morning.

Breakfast bagel Henry

Robbie takes a lot of time to “wake up”.  I don’t leave his bedroom until he is on his feet.   I didn’t have to help him out of bed today.   I was surprised he wasn’t more tired because he finally fell asleep at 10:30 last night.  He drank a cup of Russian tea and a little bit of French toast.

Breakfast Fr Toast RW

I expect Robbie and Charlie to be helpful big brothers to Henry.  They were both fighting over who was going to walk him to his classroom.  I always tell them “Brothers have to stick together!”

August 2012 – Month 8

August 2012 – Month 8

August started out awesome with a Tom Pease concert in Iola!  And spending our wedding anniversary with family at my cousin, Annie’s wedding.   This was our 16th  anniversary.

Wedding thumbs up

We had a little entertainment with our napkins while waiting for the dinner to start.

napkin Robbie

napkin charlie

napkin Henry

napkin Nola Mae

The broccoli, green beans and lettuce are ready for eating.

broccoli bean & lettuce

The cherry and grape tomatoes are just starting.  I needed to do a little lesson on colors and ripeness with my helper.

tomatoes Henry

We took photos in all my favorite spots in the yard for my post announcing my new name for my blog.  This is one that didn’t make the cut.

four kids on rocks

The Waupaca Foundry sponsored an artist who does metal moldings for a community art project that will be put up after South Park’s remodeling.  The two big artists in our family designed our family square.

family plate

We visited friends who have a lot of humming birds.  I mean a lot!  At one time there were 10-20 birds around these feeders at one time.  How many can you count?

humming birds

I took this picture coming into the barn one day.  I like how clear the reflection of the house is on Jack’s new door.

Red door

One night we hiked in the field to see how close we could get to the coyote that has been hunting in our field.

boy searching

Jack took this photo from the top of our hill.

farm from hill

I have recently learned how to hula hoop.  Never in my life could I do it, until now with these homemade ones.  I have been dreaming of making them for years when I first saw them at the Iola Fitness and Aquatic Center.  These were a upcycling project because we used these pipes to get water to our trees that were far from the house.  I only had to pay $0.17 for the connector.  Jack was cleaning them up and going to throw all the pipes away.   Hula hooping  is a good workout!  Have you hula hooped lately?

hula hoops

I had enough to decorate and give some to my nephew for his birthday.  One for him, each of his parents and his aunt that also has a birthday in August.

hula hoops taped

I guess Nola Mae was thirsty.  In the process she spilled milk inside my fridge and got stuck.  I didn’t realize how filthy it was until the spilled milk, thanks Nola Mae!

Nola Mae in fridge

Nola Mae got her first taste of the beaters.

Nola Mae beaters

I love that Charlie likes to decorate cakes.  Takes all the pressure off me.  He wanted a Minecraft golden apple.  So easy!

Charlie's cake Golden apple

For Charlie’s birthday I asked him many questions about his favorite things and blogged about it here.

Charlie's b-day cake

Nola Mae at 16 months old:

Nola Mae cutie

Nola Mae GPS

nola mae in purple

wrap DIY coral woven Nola Mae

Many people have commented how adorable Nola Mae is when she gets comfortable or sleepy when she puts her hands behind her head.  I started taken photos to really see how often she does it.  I won’t bore you or use up all my space on this blog with her in the exact same pose.   She is adorable.

Nola Mae Sleeping 1

Nola Mae sleeping 2

In the month of August I finally finished my post about my homemade soaps.

soap March flakes

Baby wearing:

Or not.  I went for a run one night and Jack took Nola Mae out to the wood shop.   He should really learn to put her in the Ergo by himself to be able to get things done.

babywearing not

I had some creative thoughts about a new Stash Shot of all my baby carriers and the best one was putting them on the clothes line.

wraps stash shot on clothes line folded

Nola Mae trying to wrap herself.

wrap Zara velvet Nola Mae (2)

wrap Zara velvet Nola Mae

My favorite wrap right now, a DIY woven wrap.  It cost me $2 at a rummage sale.  I found a box of fabrics and bought three pieces for $6 – this woven fabric, a wool piece for my neighbor and a dark blue woven piece that seems too stiff for baby wearing.

wrap DIY coral woven Nola Mae and Mama

I am stealing Jack’s phrase for this photo, “Beat in the front.  Beets in the back.”

beat and beets

I saw this dog carrier at a local arts festival.  I never knew they had actual carriers for pets, Outward Hounddog is the brand.

wrap dog wearer

Sewing projects:

A skiing friend ordered this one for a friend

ring sling Ann

and this one for a co-worker.

This is a darker turquoise color in real life.  It is so beautiful I wish I would have seen this color when I was picking out fabric for my ring sling.

ring sling turquosie 1

I feel very blessed to have friends wanting to share the love of baby wearing and for all my amazing friends supporting my little side jobs that give me a little spending money.

One of my first ring sling sales has come back for a second one for her cousin.

ring sling turquosie 2

This ring sling doesn’t have a home yet.ring sling flower print

Neither does this one. 

ring sling narrow stripes

This one is more narrow than the ones I have made.  The shoulder is a gathered shoulder, instead of pleats.  It would be great for a newborn baby.

Or maybe not because it seems to fit us.

ring sling stripes w baby