Sunday, June 29, 2008

CHEACT Conference

Kora and I made it back last night from the homeschool conference in Austin. Not that anyone in the house noticed though, because we also brought baby Ashlynn home as well. I was greeted with girlish voices telling me, "Oh, I'm so glad you're home, Mama, 'cause I missed Ashlynn!"

Thanks so much for the love.

Because Kelly and I had seen each other a grand total of about 2 hours in the last two weeks, I even introduced myself to him when I walked in the door just to make sure that he remembered who I was.

But the conference went very well. I was a bit nervous about this one because of the baby. She gets very fussy when her tummy hurts and has gotten a little bit clingy at times. But she did wonderfully!

This was our booth in the Palmer Events Center just south of downtown Austin.
Pam, my booth partner, and I were representing Tapestry of Grace, a classical history and liberal arts curriculum.
I have to brag a bit about Kora. She spent Friday and Saturday pushing around the stroller, carrying Ashlynn around, changing diapers, covering her cold legs, determining when she was hungry, and just generally taking great care of her baby sister. When people found out her age they could not believe she was only 11 1/2. She also spent those two days visiting with other vendors, exploring books for sale, listening to some of the performances going on, and making friends with some of the other girls whose families were spending their days up there as well. She told me coming home on Saturday that the conference was fun!
One of the booths at which she spent a lot of time sold fantasy books for kids, and wooden swords that the author made. The fantasy books were set back in historical settings, like the middle ages and the swords were from those time periods. Kora liked them so much that she bought two.
One is a Roman broad sword and the other is a Viking sword.
We were right next to a booth with science info. Pretty cool stuff. Ironically on the other side of us was Sonlight. Not that there is anything wrong with Sonlight, but they are basically one of TOG's biggest competitors. Whoever assigned booth locations has a sense of humor.
Beyond where Kora is standing was a booth which sells Bible story videos. Kora went over there quite a bit (she had many hours to burn) and watched the display television. When we were packing up the booth after closing time on Saturday, the man from that booth came over to me and handed me a video. He told me, "Your daughter enjoyed this so much that I'd like her to have it so she can do the interactive activities." Wasn't that sweet?
Pam and I also had to give a workshop on what Tapestry is and how to implement it. I really enjoyed that. There was around 40-50 parents in there and we had lots of questions afterwards. Last year the authors were in Austin giving all the workshops so this was my first one.

As much as I enjoyed the weekend I am very glad to be home and have my husband home. Hopefully life can get back to normal!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Well, we're off!

We are headed up to Austin for the CHEACT conference. Kelly is home, and will be in charge of the middle four girls for the next 48 hours or so. And I will probably not be blogging until after I get home. Hopefully I'll have some pictures to share.

If you are in the area, CHEACT is having some good speakers, including Andrew Pudewa. Rainbow Resource also has a booth as does Children's Books. And of course, Tapestry of Grace. And moi. So come see me!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hey now, hey now, My boyfriend's back...

Well, not back, back. Not yet.

And not really my boyfriend. More like husband, father of my children, best friend.

My wonderful husband is coming back from his business trip early! He'll be back tomorrow afternoon. Yea!

Just in time for me to say Hi and "Goodbye" before I head to Austin to work in the Tapestry of Grace booth at the CHEACT homeschool conference and bookfair. If you are in the area, it's going to be a good one!

Monday, June 23, 2008

You know you're a homeschooler when...

a UPS delivery is the highlight of your day. Or maybe your week.
This is most of the curriculum for this coming year for 4 kids, not counting the stuff I am reusing with the younger kids. This is grammar, spelling, Latin, math, logic, science, and handwriting. I'll get the rest of my history and literature from another company.
I do have to say that the girls were not nearly as excited as I was. ;-)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Kelly, this one's for you...

Look what I had to do while you were gone!

(Kelly is normally our tooth puller. But with Daddy gone on a business trip I was left to do everything on my own, including yanking out teeth!)

Can't wait for you to get home for your share of dirty diapers, crying babies, bathing little girls, and pulling out teeth!

Oh yeah, and I miss you, too! ;-)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Firsts: bottle

Yesterday Ashlynn was given her first bottle, compliments of her two oldest sisters.

Although I breastfeed exclusively, I like the flexibility of being able to leave the baby every once in a while. So I try to make sure that starting at 6-8 weeks old, I pump once every week or two so that the baby is accustomed to taking an occasional bottle. This way I am confident that, should the need or want arise, I can safely leave them once in a while.

I've had one baby who didn't take a bottle very well, because I didn't do this. Fortunately, Ashlynn takes a pacifier, so she took to it like a champ. But it still is a little weird to watch someone else feed my baby!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Brush with History

Last week Kora spent a few days with Kelly's brother and his family. They had such a good time, going fishing, swimming, and doing some touring of Austin. One of the neatest things Kora saw was in this building, which is, I am told, on the campus of UT.
Does anyone know what this is?
This is one of 48 existing copies of the Gutenberg Bible. Kora says the book on the left is actually a replica so you can see what the cover looks like. The book on the right is the real McCoy. I had no idea we had one so close to us, or I would have taken the whole family this last semester when we were studying this! Too cool! Anyone up for a field trip?
Oh, and I sure hope this isn't an omen for her future...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ramblings about Summer Break and Reclaiming my House

I'm so glad that I pretty much stayed at home and hibernated that first month after Ashlynn was born, because it has been go, go go! every since.

I have had several projects going on in and around the house. Mainly of the decorating, organizing, cleaning, and cleaning out kind. My kids really hate the last kind, as it usually involves getting rid of toys. But the Barbies have executed a hostile takeover of Brynna and Hailey's room, so the local charity donations will soon be receiving some very little high heels.

We've also ordered some bunk beds for Brynna and Hailey. As soon as they come in, we are going to switch up some of the kids' bedrooms. Brynna and Hailey will be moving into the bedroom which shares a Jack and Jill bath with Kora and Aubrey. Lauryn will be moving to the big bedroom and we'll also be setting the crib up in there for Ashlynn's eventual move out of our bedroom. In preparation for this, I have painted both of these bedrooms. Of course, now I am committed to paint Kora and Aubrey's room as well. :-) I've also been comforter shopping and gathering items to decorate the two smallest girls' room when the switch occurs.

But I've been having a blast with it. It is so wonderful to get up and do something after so many months of just doing enough to get through the day. And the fact that I feel like doing things and working hard is great!

Then last week I had to also get ready for my in-laws visit this past weekend. My sweet MIL offered to bring her carpet cleaner. Our downstairs carpet looked really bed, and my cleaner has something very wrong with it. So I even got my carpets cleaned, and they look fantastic! Thanks, Vickie!

Now I am helping my hubby get ready for a business trip and hosting a good friend of mine for the next week and a half while she works at a camp here in San Antonio. So while I am waiting for furniture deliveries, I am going to be cleaning out the stuff my clutter bugs have collected, and just plain cleaning. When I was cleaning for my in-laws last week, I realized just how far I had let certain areas of my house go. Eeeew. So hopefully I can get a good bit of that done while Kelly is gone.

I usually don't take an extended summer break, preferring to keep a more year-round schedule. But, I have to admit, that I am savoring the long break this year! I just put in my school order last week, so I am hoping I will be ready to get back to it and get the next year planned out in July.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Favorite Things: Soothies Gel Pads

I have a terrible secret. I hate nursing the first couple of weeks. Eventually I love it, but I have a really hard time getting started.

Not only do I make enough milk to feed the entire neighborhood, nursing hurts at first. I have talked to enough nursing moms to know that this is not the norm for all new mothers, but I have been through the same thing six times now. So it is the norm for me, as is being engorged for a week instead of the 24-48 hours the pregnancy books will tell you.

When I had Hailey, I had open, cracked, bleeding sores for eight weeks. I cried every time I nursed for most of that time. When I got pregnant again with Lauryn, I saw a lactation consultant both before and after she was born. And she became my new best friend because she gave me these:

Soothies Gel Pads

These are my all time favorite new baby item. You see, when I nurse with these sores, between feedings they will scab over. Then at the next feeding, my nursing pad has dried to the scab, and I have to rip it off. This of course exacerbates the problem. But these pads are coated with a gel like is used on burn patients. It doesn't stick to the wound!

I wear them between my skin and another regular nursing pad for more absorbency. I went through about 4 pair of these with Ashlynn. I love them. I use them until I am healed up enough to use just regular nursing pads alone. With Ashlynn this took about 4 weeks.

You can also put these in the fridge to get them good and cool before wearing them, but frankly they were never off of me long enough for me to do this. You can buy these at CVS and Walgreens, and I'm sure other places as well. They will seem a little steep (about $10 a pair) but they are totally worth every penny! So if you have soreness or crack open when nursing, you NEED SOOTHIES!

Picture from

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Paradise Lost

I just found out last night that Kora swam within a couple of feet of a water snake on Saturday. When she saw it, she booked it the other way.

Good thing I didn't know at the time. I might have acted a little panicky.

OK, a lot panicky.

Actually, I'm hyperventilating right now.

I hate snakes.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Who Knew Paradise Was So Close?

Saturday, we went to Paradise Canyon, about 25 minutes west of us on the Rio Medina River. Some friends from church were celebrating their 10th anniversary by renewing their vows and afterwards, their four oldest children were being baptized. So it was a special day for their family as well as our church.
It was also a beautiful day and a beautiful location. I didn't feel like I was near San Antonio at all! Plus the weather was a little overcast and breezy - just enough to keep us comfortable. It also would lightly rain on us occasionally - again just enough to keep the temperatures down - and reminded more than one of us of the weather in Hawaii.
They have a beautiful lodge out there that our friends had rented which made a great place to serve lunch, change clothes, nurse a baby, etc. It was huge!
Our pastor, Dirk, performed the marriage covenant renewal service. It was simple, heartfelt, and very sweet.
Then JD washed his wife's feet, as a symbol of being a servant leader in the home. I'm not sure Shannon knew about this part, because she looked a little surprised to me.
Then Dirk did a quick clothes change and came back out to baptize the kids. That water was quite chilly, too!
(I'm sure some of you are wondering, so I'll just add that our church does pour or immerse, depending on the convictions of the family.)
I am kicking myself for not getting any more pictures of after the ceremony. We had a wonderful catered lunch, and the kids swam, rode in a paddle boat, inner tubed, splashed, jumped off 10-12 foot cliffs into the water, and just generally had a great time. It was a beautiful place, and I can't wait to go back sometime!

Friday, June 6, 2008

I feel good, Na na na na na na. Like I knew that I would now.

While I am still dealing with sleep issues, just like any mom of a new baby, I am so happy to report that I feel good. I haven't been blogging much because I have been both busy and occupied. And no, they aren't the same thing.

Feeling "good" may not sound like much to many of you, but it means so much to me. In fact it has a double meaning for me. First, I am NOT PREGNANT anymore. I knew I felt crummy there at the end of the pregnancy; but until she was a few weeks old and I started to feel really good, I didn't realize how bad I had felt. I tell you that there has been a huge difference - at least for me - in the pregnancies I had in my 20's and the two I have had in my 30's.

So with my new found energy and good feelings, I have been tackling many projects around the house that have been sadly neglected over the past year. Memorial Day Weekend we shaped up the front yard and porch. We still have a little bit to do - like getting some sod down in an area that used to be a rock bed - but it looks much better. Like people live here who care. I've also been painting. I have painted two bedrooms upstairs in the last week, with help from my oldest two girls. We have ordered bunk beds for our 7 and 5 year olds, and will be moving them into a different bedroom. I wanted the rooms painted before the beds arrived and the bedroom switch occurred.

Most importantly, however, I am feeling good post partum. As many of you who know me well are aware, I had some major problems after the births of my 5 and 3 year olds. I am extremely happy to report that with Ashlynn nearly 7 weeks old, I am showing NO SIGNS of similar problems this time. And I am thanking the Lord every day for it. He has sent many things and people my way that have made it possible this time, and it is such a blessing that I am not taking for granted. I am also past the early nursing stage when I have so many problems, so I am to the point I can really enjoy the baby.

Especially when she sleeps from 9:30 pm to 6 am like she did last night!!! First time!

So I have been busy around the house and with my family, and I have been occupied nursing, rocking and holding my baby. And since I have never gotten the hang of typing one handed, it has cut down on my blogging time. But since I am being able to really enjoy that baby time like I haven't been able to the last two times, I haven't minded too much.

But if she keeps sleeping like this, maybe I can get back to things I enjoy, like blogging. And running off baby weight. And weaning myself off Dr. Pepper. Oh wait, I think that falls into the necessary evil category...

Monday, June 2, 2008

In Defiance of the Space-Time Continuum...

Ashlynn is six weeks old!
None of us can believe it, but she was six weeks old on Saturday. Now I know for sure that the last six weeks of my pregnancy did not go by this quickly. Either pregnancy slows down the passage of time, or childbirth causes it to speed up. (Of course pregnancy itself disproves the theory that two people cannot inhabit the same place at the same time. Can you tell Kelly and I are Star Trek geeks?)

Ashlynn's newest trick is a very pretty smile, which she loves to show off to her mommy and daddy.
And of course, big sissy Lauryn has to get in the action as well.