Monday, November 26, 2012


Last night was our "decorate the house for Christmas" night. I love this time of year. It's chalk fun of memory making opportunities. My children are super excited about everything--cookies, snow, the tree and presents! For us, Christmas is about more than that. It's about celebrating the birth of a Savior- God who became man and died for our sins. We want  our children to grow up to desire God and serving him.

On our decorating day, we listen to Christmas music as Bob puts up the tree and we bake cookies. Before we decorate it, we give the boys one gift (the same one every year), a little people nativity scene. Bob reads the Christmas story from their children's Bible and they play with the set. Dawson was so cute when we asked him who the baby was. "Baby Jeeeesusss." I'll have to video him saying it. It is too cute.
         I always picture this night like those commercials. Everyone dressed in coordinating outfits. The spouses hugging while the children neatly hang ornaments and periodically ask to hear the story of one of those beloved ornaments. Instead I have to beg Ollie to put clothes on and wrestle Dawson into pants.    While baking cookies, Dawson is jamming his fingers into them. They are both pulling out ornaments and throwing the paper they were wrapped in all over the floor. They are wacking  each other with the branches from the tree.Eh. This is what memories are made of, right?                                                                                                                                 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Preschool co-op

We had our first preschool c-op of the year last week.There are three families in our group including us. Three four year olds, three two year olds and two two month olds.  This time only one other family came.  I decided to use the theme owls.

We started by reading a pebble plus book Owls by Mary R. Dunn. Pebble plus books are great nonfiction books for young kids. They have very colorful photographs with only a few sentences per page. After the book, we discussed what we learned. The four year olds dictated a few sentences to their moms. Then, the kids illustrated the page themselves. Ollie chose to draw a caterpillar. I'm not sure why. We may need to work on that!

The younger kids worked on a worksheet I found here. It has a ton of cute worksheets with owls. The boys were to color the owl bellies to match the color word below. They mostly just colored.

Next, we did what Ollie had been dying to do--dissect an owl pellet. I picked up a rel owl pellet at the local learning store here. For those we don't know, owls eat an entire animal and then puke up whatever they can't digest into a small ball. The boys loved this and as a matter of fact, we discovered an entire rodent skull inside ours. When I asked Ollie later if he liked it, he said, "Oh yeah. More than you even know." I scored major mommy points for that one. Best $7 I ever spent.

We moved right into a craft after much hand sanitizer. I found this craft in the October edition of Family Fun Magazine. It's my favorite! Ollie chose bright colored baking cups at the store so our owls were pretty funky. This craft used a paper towel roll, two baking cups, two construction paper circles, two hole reinforcer stickers, glue and a black marker. They turned out pretty cute.

For lunch, we made owl sandwiches. I pre-cut a bread body. I used a heart cookie cutter but I rounded the top. I also cut ham to match. Then I cut two large cheese circles and two small ones and one triangle cheese for the beak. The kids ate this up...literally.

 They did one more counting worksheet before free play. I had also printed the scissor practice sheet and the handwriting one from the link above but their wasn't time. All in all, I think it was successful. We've  continued on owls during our school time. Ollie actually told me he wanted an owl party for his birthday and Dawson was begging to do school this morning. I'm hoping to take them to an owl program tomorrow I found through our county conservation club but ollie has been complaining about his ear so we will have to see when our doctor's appointment is!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


For those who are unaware, we do plan to home school. I know what you are thinking: What about socialization? Your kids will be freaks, etc, etc, etc. As for socialization, there are plenty of ways to get socialization within our family and with kids in our community. For example, my kids go to church every Sunday and Tuesday night where they are in classes/play with their peers. Ollie also goes to gymnastics. We go to storytime at the library almost every week. We go to Mom's circle 2x a month. We have preschool co-op 2x a month. We also have frequent playdates. We are choosing to home school for two reasons: quality of education and to have more time to instill our values into our children. Besides, who wouldn't want to do school in their jammies?!  I can't tell you for how long we will keep them home. We are on a year by year plan.

So far, it's great. Ollie begs to do school everyday. I love being able to specialize his education. He is really gifted in math so we are doing lots of kindergarten and first grade math. Dawson loves art. Our activities include plenty of it. I did not purchase a curriculum this year. Ollie just turned 4 the end of August and I see no reason to make school rigid  at this point. My goal for the year was to get into a routine and to help my kids love to learn. So far, so good.

Since it is fall, we are focusing on Fall type themes. Last week, it was pumpkins. I try to have 3 activities ready per kid per day. Some days, that doesn't work. Some days Ollie does his workbooks (math, hand writing and reading) while Dawson sleeps or we count the science center as school. Nonetheless, we did some fun stuff.

I should mention that we also do Bible activities. Last week we talked about the creation story. My children used chalk and yellow streamers to make a light scene on black paper. The chalk was a big hit.

As for the pumpkins, I cut each boy some pumpkins out of orange construction paper. Ollie has been working on ordinals. So I wrote 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th on five different pumpkins and had him put them into order. For Dawson, I cut three pumpkins all different sizes and had him order them from smallest to biggest.

Another activity we did involved emotions, I gave each boy 4 pumpkins and had them add mouths that I had cut out. We talk about the way each pumpkin was feeling. This was really easy for Ollie. Dawson did very well with happy and sad.

I created a sheet for each boy with the letter P and a pumpkin. Ollie had to first do a bit of handwriting with the P then he got to paint the pumpkin. Dawson and I talked about the P and then he painted it. My kids love painting.

Ollie is working on fractions. I cut four orange circles into different fractions- 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4. He had to glue the correct pieces into squares I had labeled. Dawson worked on the color orange. I gave him several orange shapes and he happily glued them to paper.

 To review concepts, I filled two bags with some objects. Ollie had to tell me which started with the p sound. Dawson had to find orange things.

I may have forgotten a few things but if I don't take a picture of it, I can't remember that we did it! I really love teaching my kids. It seems they really love being taught by me. I love the freedom or incorporating things they love into their assignments and planning days so that their isn't too many things that discourage them. I love that they can interrupt a book to ask a question without being scolded because unlike a regular classroom, we have time. The only people waiting are us. I love that we can go outside anytime we want to go to lunch or watch a movie. I love that I am giving them a strong foundation so that when they do go to school, they can stand on their own two feet. I love my kids and I love being with them.

Pumpkin Patch

I'm really behind on posting. We'll see how much we can currently get done this morning before my crew gets out of bed. A couple weeks ago, a dear friend of mine, Carrie, and I took the kids to Williamson's pumpkin patch. It is a free pumpkin patch so it doesn't have all the bells and whistles that Center Orchard does but it was free and it is close. It also made for a quick outing!

The weather was gorgeous. I sure am enjoying those unseasonably warm October days. I think they might be over though. At the patch, the kids did a maze, swung on a tire swing, played in a "corn box", saw and fed some animals and picked a few pumpkins.

 Ollie and his pal sophie

Since the weather was gorgeous and we had packed a lunch, I found a park on Ankeny to eat and play. Ollie is always hot and I guess I over dressed him so he had to take his shirt off. Dawson, as always, followed suit. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


My kids love to paint. They will paint anything, anywhere at any time. I try to indulge them in this because it's good for them & they are learning & making a huge mess! The problem is that I usually have to be prepared to cleaned up the mess & also bathe the kids.

Last week,  this perfect canvas was begging to be painted.

I remembered seeing window paint on Pinterest so I looked it up & viola- a beautiful masterpiece. This was really fun.  The kids had a blast.  The paint is made with dish soap & washable tempera paint. I will say that I think I put too much dish soap.  It was a bit hard to clean off. My kids had a very bubbly bath after!  Unfortunately,  my dear husband decided painting this particular window is dangerous so it won't happen again. I'm bummed!

Another Pinterest pin,  was bath paint. The recipe called for baby bath wash & food coloring.  It was way too light on our pink tub.  In the past I've used shaving cream with food coloring.  It’s much brighter stays on their paint brushes better. Its always a good time! Ollie loves when the water gets "murky."

 I often tape up large paper on the kitchen wall. I buy rolls of it at hobby lobby. We've used different paints this way but typically stick to washable tempera. While painting this, Dawson was telling me about the house he was painting. "see this is the window." I was impressed. 
 Last week , we went to a pumpkin patch & bought some little pumpkins. (We bought some big ones, too.) I told the kids they could paint them. We finally got around to it. they've asked a bunch! It was a lot of fun. I asked them not to paint themselves & they complied. Is that all it took? 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

To the One Who Showed Me Love is Indeed Multiplied

Dearest Dawson,
When I was pregnant with you I was afraid I wouldn't have enough love for both you & your brother. But the very minute you were born, I discovered that I did have enough.  My love was not divided, it was multiplied & I was filled with joy. 

Shortly after you were born,  you began to struggle to breathe & they ton you away from me.  I was devastated. I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest.  It was three days before I was allowed to hold you again.  When they finally let me, I cried & cried.  I couldn't wait to be able to hold you whenever I wanted &; nurse you.  I sat with you add much as I could.  I read the Wind in the Willows to you. 

Seventeen days after you were born,  you finally came home.  It was an amazing day. You are such a blessing to us.  You've given Ollie a brother & a best friend. 

I love you very much. I love your smile. I live the rhythm to the way you speak. I love the way you gallop around with your arms flapping when you dance. I love the way you say , "I miss you," when you really mean I love you. I love your sweetness. I'm so glad God allowed me to be your mom. You are amazing. I pray that one day you will grow up to be a godly man. I pray you will use your "strong will" & determination to advance His kingdom. I pray you find the peace & joy only available through Him.

 Happy 2nd birthday my love!

 Love, Mommy

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Monster Bash

Our boys have birthdays one month apart. This year with the birth of Nora,  I decided to do a combined birthday party. 

I love parties.  I spend most of the year thinking about & looking for birthday party ideas.  This year I decided a Monster party  would be super fun.  In the age of Pinterest, party planning is really easy. 
In order to avoid interrupting family time,  I did our party on a Wednesday morning at a nearby park.  We had 19 kids (including babies),  7 moms. I only invited our Bible study, our preschool co-op & one neighbor.  We have a wonderful church with tons of friends but I had to do what I could to keep it to a reasonable size.

We had just a few activities.  One was make a monster.  I made playdoh & gave each child a chunk.  Then,  I set our pipe cleaners,  googly eyes & beads.  The kids loved this activities. They came up with cool creations.

We also had a photo "booth" where the kids could become a monster. I plan to print them & get them to their moms.  I thought that was kind of a fun keepsake. The photo booth doubled as a bean bag toss. Three kids also enjoyed that.  The rest of the time the kids played at the park.

I tried to keep everything as monstrous as possible.  I bought hole reinforcers & used them as eyes on party hats and juice boxes.  A but of black sharpie to make the pupil & mouths. I also used yarn & added silly hair to the hats.  The hats were well received.

I saw the cupcake idea on Pinterest.  Unfortunately,  I asked Bob to buy gummy lifesavers instead of those peach slice things.the gummy lifesavers did not fit around dum dum suckers so I used lollipop sticks (bought at hobby lobby) &stuck them thru the lifesaver. I then used a bit of white frosting & added a chocolate chip to create an eye.
As takeaways, I made monsters out of some clearance fabric,  buttons & rick rack.  They turned out really cute!

My super sweet hubs,  designed the boys matching monster shirts with their name & age.  I usually order them from Etsy but didn't want to spend $25 per shirt.  We had leftover printable iron on sheets from three shirts we did for Nora’s birth.  We bought those at target.  I think i spent $10 on those (we've done 5 shirts) & the shirts were  3.50 at hobby lobby.

The party was great but I am so tired. I was up too late for too many nights working on it in addition to a new baby.  But it was worth it to see my two sweet boys smile!  Ollie told me hits favorite part was everything.

I'm thankful for my mother-in-law who came & got the boys ready while I set up & then came to help with Nora during the party.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Today I went and got pictures taken of Nora and a few of her with the boys. I think they are super cute!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Birth Story

I think I will tell you my birth story. It may be slightly censored as it is near impossible to be completely vulnerable about something so intimate and personal. On Friday, I invited my sister to be part of that intimate moment. I had never even considered having anyone but my husband in there but I am so glad she was and in saying that, there is not another human on the planet I would have allowed in. It is such an intense emotional experience.

On Friday morning, I had an appointment with my midwife. She stripped my membranes at that appointment and said she thought they'd see me in the next 12 hours. My cervix was "ripe." eww. huh? Anyway, I left there and received word that my mom, dad, sister and niece would be driving down that evening. Uh-oh. What if nothing happens? Determined not to let that happen, I went grocery shopping and carted every bit of those groceries up the stairs myself. Then I started the marinara sauce for the famous "put you into labor eggplant parmigiana." And while that simmered I chased the boys around the house. Literally, I ran. My contractions were regular but very light. Since I was group B strep positive, I called the midwife when they were 5-8 minutes apart. She wanted me to come due to thestrep B. From past experience, once I hit active labor, it is quick. I was concerned I wouldn't get the antibiotic in time.

Upon arrival, I was dilated between a 4-5 but still in early labor not active labor. I really think in normal circumstances, I would have been sent home to labor but due to my needing the antibiotics and time, a plan was formed. I was going to stay and start the antibiotics. My midwife (if my contractions didn't pick up) would break my water 4 hours after the antibiotics which was midnight. My sister arrived in plenty of time. My labor did not pick up and at about 12:40 my water was broken.

It did pick up but not enough that I couldn't laugh through some contractions. The atmosphere was amazing. My nurse, midwife and sister were telling funny stories when I was in pain. It was marvelous. As the contractions picked up, I moved to the tub. Bob put on my labor mix of songs and I chilled out. It hurt but it was not unbearable. Yet.

When I hit about 7 centimeters, I was over it. I couldn't get comfortable. I moved. Twisted. Turned. Failed. My midwife Susan was amazing during this time. Whenever I seemed out of control, she brought me back. She hit pressure points on my feet. Showed bob how to apply pressure to my back and my sister rubbed my hands. I stayed at a 7 for an hour and a half. I think I was in and out of the tub. I walked around the room, sat on the toilet, leaned over the bed. An hour into 7, I believe I started begging for pain meds or death. Which ever was easier. I started to think that it was never going to end and that I was going to fail. Susan kept telling me I could do it and that I was doing a great job. Bob told me I had done it before and I could. My sister told me I was strong. My nurse said I made it look easy. (haha. Nice lie Melissa!) Susan had me lie on the bed a while with my leg propped on the tray. She rubbed my back and I moved into a state of being that was unbelievable. I don't believe the intensity slowed down, but the pain I felt subsided. I was able to breath through contractions and was in a semi- sleep state. Praise God for midwives! Susan had said she was going to give me 30 more minutes and see if I had made progress. I told myself that if I was still at a 7, the heck it, I was going to get an epidural. Lo and behold, I was an 8 at the check.

Susan made me get up and it got bad again. I moved to the shower and had Bob spray my back and belly with the sprayer. Labor is something that is a pain you've never felt. There is no escaping it. There is no moving to relieve it. It just is. Eventually, I reached what I call my animal mode. I started pacing the room. After I had Nora, Susan told me she was worried I was going to bolt. Luckily, It was not more than an hour from the time she made me get up til I was ready to push. She checked me about 5:30 and said I was 9. Since this wasn't my first horse and pony show, she could possibly stretch me the rest during a contraction. It took two contractions because I wimped out and made her stop. Now a contraction makes you want to die and a contraction with someone stretching your cervix makes you want to die and take every bloody person in the room down with you! We were ready. They started calling in the team.

I'll be honest. I was scared. terrified. I was tired and now afraid of pain. With Ollie, I pushed for 3 hours. With Dawson, 30 minutes but it really hurt. I was scared. What if I couldn't do it? What if I ripped open clear to my head and bleed to death? (I know that's not possible but you get slightly psychotic after that long in pain.) When we were ready, I pushed twice to crown. Then, she had me move on my side. My understanding is this is a good position because it opens the pelvis and also helps to minimize tearing. I pushed twice more through two contractions. I could hear my sister and bob telling me, "I can see her. I see her Autumn. Keep going. She's out! She's out!" They laid her on my chest. I had completed my third completely unmedicated birth.  I had done it. I could do it! I didn't die and here was my prize. A beautiful baby girl.

 Bob whispered, "Elenora Jade" into her tiny little ear and prayed a blessing. I looked to Jade. "Do you know her name?"


"Elenora Jade."

Her eyes and small "oooh." said it all. We had chosen well. It was a courageous name for our little one. Jade had plowed through a lot and I know this birth was something she looked forward to.

There is another picture I'd love to share but it has an awful lot of boob in it as I am nursing. For the sake of modesty, I'll keep it to myself. I wish I had gotten one with her on my chest that was a little more censored. (sigh)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Blessed to be Five!

What a blessing! My little girl, Elenora Jade is here. She is beautiful and perfect and the Lord has answered the desires of my heart. After some inkling that my labor would start last night, I invited my sister, Jade,  to come be in the delivery room. I can't tell you how much that woman means to me. She is an unbelievable blessing in my life. And it was even more incredible because we had chosen her name as Elenora's middle name although Jade did not know that yet. We keep the name secret until the end and it was even several minutes after Nora was born before Jade knew this.

I could tell Jade was amazed watching the birth. After Nora was placed on my chest Bob and I prayed over her and told her what her name was. Then we told my sister. I love the look on her face and the tears. It was such a great moment. Originally, we had planned to name our girl Elenora Anslie but my sister and I have grown increasingly close over the past several months and I have been awed by her strength and courage after the diagnosis of her youngest daughter with leukemia. I really wanted to honor her and I am so glad I could.

The Lord blessed me in so many ways. Both of my other babies were early and Dawson spent 16 days in the NICU. I was scared that would happen again. Instead, I stayed pregnant to 39 weeks 4 days. It was very difficult and I was antsy but it was a blessing. I also was worried because I was group B strep positive and you must have antibiotics for at least 4 hours to protect the baby. I got 11 hours. I was scared she would be too big. She was my easiest to push out. My boys got to come to the hospital to meet her. I never got that last time. I'm so thankful for a loving God who cares for us!