Monday, June 6, 2016

So... It's been a while!

So it's been an incredibly long time since I last posted on my blog. Like a really, really long time. It's actually been a gift from me to you, a gift of silence and reflection on my blog. It's hard to go many places and find that these days, especially with kids! I hope you enjoyed it, and are feeling refreshed! 

Here's what's happened in our household since February 2015: 

1. We went on vacation to Florida in April 2015 to watch my brother-in-law compete in a Half-Ironman race. 

2. I found out I was expecting bundle of joy #4 (due to arrive in December 2015) on that particular trip to Florida. Note: My #3 was 6 months old at the time. Do you feel a wave of terror and insanity wash over you? I did!

3. I resigned myself to the fact that life would be crazy for a while, at least until baby #4 was six months old-ish. Knowing this, I stepped back from everything in life that I could, including blogging, volunteering, and most (not all!) homeschooling.

4. I began writing with only one space between the end of a sentence and beginning of a new one. I learned to type using two spaces, and have since read that you should now use one space. Who knew?! I was once staunch in my support of two spaces, but in the interest of time and the character limit on Twitter, I switched to one. It's shocking, I know!

5. Photography is a love of mine. I love taking pictures to preserve memories, and when you have kids, an enthusiastic pursuit in photography just makes sense. My hubby upgraded my equipment to a full frame Nikon DSLR for Christmas 2015, and I'm learning more about it all the time. I'm always looking to perfect my craft, and love doing so!

6. Baby #4 came on December 7, 2015! And boy is he a cutie!! Meet my little Levi Isaac Richard. Levi means joined in harmony and Isaac means he laughs, and he lives up to both of his names!

7. And now, the time has come and Levi is six months old tomorrow. Just as I hoped, I'm just beginning to feel like writing again. So here we are!

Time has flown by. I'm getting old (35 years old later this month!) and my body hates me for having two babies in 15 months. I have moments where I wonder if I'll ever recover. And moments where I'm sure that I won't. I do know that I'll never again have my 18 year old body. (Oh, do I wish I could tell 18-year-old me how beautiful she was, and for as ugly as she thought her body was, it was actually pretty smokin' hot.) But one goal or resolution that I have for the rest of this year is to get to a comfortably in shape after-baby body. One I don't despise. I know that weight loss is just simple thermodynamics, calories in must be less than calories out. Now to put it into practice is tougher. Can't wait to see how that goes! 

In as far as other goals, we are homeschooling this fall. Isaiah will be in First Grade and Annika in Kindergarten. I may start early to give myself a cushion to get comfortable with two big kids and two babies under two. I wondered which way to go with school this fall, to start early to give myself more time or to start later to let the babies grow up a little. I made a decision to start early, but I'm not sure how it will work out yet. I'll let you know when I figure it out! And anyone with experience on this one, please save me from my predicament and give me your advice! 

I am super excited about our homeschooling journey because we are actually doing a curriculum from Timberdoodle, and a mini co-op with friends. I tried to get into a local co-op that was expanding into my area, and it was full for the fall. In April. Six months before they are to start. While it made me quite sad, I realized that I have an awful lot of friends that are homeschooling who would want to do a co-op together. Enter our mini-co-op. I have no idea how it will work, since it's a work in progress, but I think it will be fun. 

I also have a goal to read a few fun novels this year. I have always loved reading. Always. But it's been a few years since I read for fun. I have read self-improvement books in the past few years, and they have been helpful. I also read books about raising babies, helping them sleep, and various other aspects of childhood.  But as far as pleasure reading, I read one book about crime and the history of the Mormon church, and I remembered how much fun it was to read... for fun! Not sure what I'll be reading yet, but when I know, I'll post about it!
So if you have tips and tricks for instant weight loss, easy homeschooling with four littles, and some great suggestions for summer reading, please get at me! Until next time...


Monday, February 2, 2015

Maple Sugary Sweetness and Becoming a MapleTapper!

Isaiah asked me once about making maple syrup. I'm not sure where he even got the idea, but he asked, and so we set out to learn. At the time, we scoured the Internet for resources and videos on how to make maple syrup. We were intrigued, and it really sounded like fun! But it required taps and buckets and most importantly a maple tree, none of which we had at our disposal. 

Fast forward a year or so, and enter Clovers Garden Center, with the Maple Tapper Kit for kids!  It's available on Amazon here!

I was so very excited to receive this product! We could finally give maple tapping and maple syrup making a go! It features a full color book with lots of instructions and education about all things maple syrup. How do you find the right tree, pick the right time of year, tap the tree and finally collect sap and make syrup - it's all there! But it's not just a book.... 

Isaiah learning about maple syrup!
The kit has two maple tree taps, two large buckets, lids to cover the buckets, and even a fine filter to run the tree sap and syrup through!  All of the products are sturdy and seem like they will last through many, many years worth of use.  To some, this just isn't very exciting, but I am ecstatic! I can not wait to try this fun science experience with my kids! 

And the kids were quite enthralled with the kit as well, as I'm sure is evident in the pictures! They can not wait to find some trees to tap, and it's going to be tough for them to wait for spring!  It's neat to find a product to help us learn about something in which Isaiah's expressed interest - making maple syrup. 

The book is extremely helpful for anyone with no background in making maple syrup, which is probably most people!  It contains a narrative section with an entire story about the process to make maple syrup with facts and figures and great illustrations.  It was probably a bit much text for my five and three year old students, but I was able to hold their attention by breezing through some more in-depth sections.  The book also contains a section of art, science, and cooking activities for the kids.  And to help the adults (you know you'll need it!), there is an entire "how to" section with the nitty gritty details of maple tapping for adults.  If you need more information, articles or how-to videos, you can check out the Maple Tapper website!  

Annika reading our book, ready to become a maple tapper! :)
I have always loved maple syrup, so much so that maple sugar candies were my favorite candy for many many years. My mom would always include a box of the sugary sweet confections in my Easter basket every year as a child! My hometown had a yearly maple sugar festival when I was growing up, and they would showcase the various stages of making maple sugar, from tapping trees to boiling off the sap.  And so this kit probably inspires a bit of nostalgia for me.  It also inspires and enables me to pass on my love for maple syrup, and learn the whole syrup making process right along with my own kids. What fun!

So now to find a maple tree and become a #mapletapper! :) 

Note: I received a Maple Tapper Kit for free in exchange for my review.  It does in no way effect just how excited I am about this product! :)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Baby Number Three - Announcing Malachi Alan - just a few months late....

So, life has been busy for the last six or so months. 

First, I was pregnant.  And miserable.  I truly hate to say that I was miserable, because a new baby is a huge blessing.  But for the sake of transparency and honesty, I was not a happy camper for the last few months of my pregnancy. Some people love to be pregnant, would be pregnant all the time if they could be...  I could not WAIT to be NOT pregnant and to hold and see my sweet baby boy.  Each of my pregnancies has been rough in its own way, but one thing that has been constant is a weird pain under my ribs toward the end.  With each subsequent pregnancy, this awful pain comes earlier.  I tend not to be a complainer when it comes to pain, as I consider myself to have a pretty high pain tolerance (I mean, I did take on a minivan with my head)...  But this pain was bad enough that I was taking Tylenol almost constantly, and my ribs were still tender about seven or eight weeks AFTER we had Malachi.  

So add some toddlers to chase, and I was a huge, hormonal, in pain, pregnant mess who counted down the days until September 5 - our scheduled C-section date.  I hoped my water would break sooner, and I really thought for sure it would...  But he was cozy and held on inside the womb until our scheduled meeting day.  Which was also a good thing, because my mom and dad were in Ireland, on a trip scheduled months before John and I even knew we were expecting.  A trip which ended a week and a half before my due date...  So thankfully, my mom made it through the trip, and safely arrived stateside, to help me at home the last few days before we became a family of five! 

On September 5, John and I went in to the hospital super early in the morning, excited to meet our baby boy.  am not sure why, but somewhere in my mind, I was thinking that the more C-sections you have, the easier it gets.  And I must tell you, while it may be true for vaginal deliveries, it's simply not true for C-sections.  At least not for me.  I was nauseous again this time, and for a change, John was too.  :)  What a pair we were in the delivery room, as I'm nearly dry heaving, while John is out in the hall, taking a break so as not to pass out.  At 8:14 am on Friday, September 5, our son, Malachi Alan, was born, measuring 21 inches and 8 pounds 14 ounces.  

Malachi at two days old
He was certainly a chunky little guy, and his chunkiness got him into a bit of trouble right away.  He surprised everyone when he presented breech and then got a bit wedged inside mom during delivery.  He took a bit of tugging to get out and in the melee, he ingested some amniotic fluid.  Also, because he was so big, the nurses had to check and recheck his blood sugar, as he was having a bit of trouble regulating his blood sugar.  So our first few days were certainly not without excitement...  

His siblings came to the hospital on Saturday to meet the new little guy.  It's always interesting to see how kids respond to certain situations, and I guessed that both of them would be ecstatic to meet Malachi.  Isaiah was.  Annika was not.  She started bawling in the hall on the way to meet him, and declared that she didn't want to meet him.  She has since grown to ADORE him, so it's all good!  The kids have adjusted nicely, and in some weird little way, three kids almost seems easier than two.  Maybe it's their ages, maybe it's their desire to help, maybe it's all in my head.  Who can tell?!  I can tell you that Malachi must be my easiest baby so far, he's serious, but loves to smile and sleep.  What's not to love?

Malachi at Christmastine, my chunky little monkey! 

We had just a few things going on since his birth - holidays, hospital stays, and a wedding.  Yep, four weeks after he was born, my little sister got married!  It was exciting, and I was in all my post partum glory.  But to get from Malachi's birth to the wedding, we had four solid weeks of fun and excitement.  I won't touch on it now, except to say, hospital stays suck!  More on that soon!