After four kids, ten moves and nearly two decades, we are still blissfully in love (most of the time) and I found myself back in the state I was born and raised in. It has definitely been a journey. In fact, on our 18th anniversary we pulled the last of our stuff up over the pass and into Montana, leaving our surprise love, Idaho, behind. But Montana is a great place. The last best place according to some. And we fully intend to explore as much of it as we can! Join us on our continued adventure through life, love and other stuff that comes with it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Right now . . .

Sometimes I look at something and wish it for myself. Not in a coveting type of way, but in a way that I know would be beneficial to me and everyone else around me.

That's how I feel about this photo.

Right now I could really use a nap.

Thank goodness it's Friday.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Of queens

I have three little princesses. I believe every little girl should be a princess.

They get their ideas from their daddy, mostly. But I must admit that Disney plays a part in their perception of princesses. Cinderella is my favorite of those princesses.

One day we were watching Cinderella for the 1,582 time and Calla commented that the King sure was mad. I asked her why she thought he might be like that. She thought for a minute and said, "He doesn't have a queen."

I think she's onto something.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin time!

We actually did it. We carved pumpkings. And it was fun.

Violet got into it this year.

She totally got into it.

Now, I couldn't help but be reminded of something I'd seen quite a bit growing up on the farm. With cows.

Anyone who has experience with the cattle industry probably knows what I'm talking about.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'm not going to enlighten you. I'm just not. But trust me that no cattle are hurt in the process.

Anyway, after I got past that, we proceeded with the pumpkin carving.

But again, Violet was . . .

. . . getting a little too excited about stabbing her pumpkin in the eye.

We'll have to work on that.

Anyway (again), the end result was actually pretty good this year. Grace even did most of her own carving. Yet another piece of evidence that she must stop growing up.

It was fun, the kids are happy with them and we're roasting pumpkin seeds today. I hope they like them.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tingly Toes

For several years now I've wanted to do something like this. Ever since I rushed to Seattle to help a friend who suddenly found herself there with a very sick baby. I remember taking leftovers, canned peaches, children's books, a blanket, and a few baby carriers.

And before I left I had watched her snuggle her little boy in a mei tai for the first time. He seem suddenly so comfortable and she was in awe of how wonderful such a simple piece of fabric could be. Despite all the tubes trailing about and the nurses poking and prodding and the alarms going off, that baby boy was where he needed to be and his mama had him where she needed him. For that moment they both seemed oblivious to their surroundings.

That was where the seed was planted with me. And now Susan has watered it by starting a lending library to help families "wear cancer out." Childhood cancer seems so unfair, so mean, so uncontrollable. But even if we can't make it all better in an instant, sometimes just making life more comfortable and easier for the family can make a huge difference. Many of us have experienced the joy and benefits of babywearing in our happy, healthy family. Imagine what it can do for a family who has been jolted by the reality of fighting a childhood cancer.

Come help. Check out the website and become a fan on Facebook. Donate to the cause. It's a great one. Spread the word and help us wear cancer out.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Happy Gramppy

Look at this guy.

That is one happy grandpa. And it makes me happy to get pictures like this. But this one has more of a story behind it than most customer stories and photos I get.

This grandpa is my great grandma's sister's daughter's husband. That little baby is their daughter's new little one. And the baby's uncle, my second cousin once removed (we think that's what it is), bought his sister, the mom of the new baby, that carrier.

Confused yet? It's not that complicated. It just takes a lot of words to explain all the connections.

Now, about that brother, my second cousin once removed who bought the carrier in the first place.

Last summer we had a family reunion and since it was in conjunction with great grandma's memorial (she lived to be 102 and I still think that's pretty phenomenol), great grandma's sister was there with her family, which included pictured grandpa, his wife (great grandma's sister's daughter) and their children, one of whom is said brother who is my second cousin once removed (at least that's what we suspect).

Violet was about five days old and I just had her in my Goose pretty much the whole time. Or she was nursing. Or my mom had her in a Goose.

Second cousin once removed was pretty impressed by that carrier. AND the cool part is that he doesn't even have kids. He is even single. So, Mr. Single-no-kids was so impressed with these crazy carriers that his second cousin once removed (that's me) was selling that the carriers have become his standard baby gift.

I think it's great that Mr. Single-no-kids-second-cousin-once-removed can see the value in something so simple. Smart guy. (How many Mr. Single-no-kids do you know who actually know to GIVE a baby gift, let alone a useful one??)

And his sister, also my second cousin once removed (we think) told me that Happy Gramppy was the first to use the carrier.

Mr. Single-no-kids-second-cousin-once-removed then sent me this picture and told me his sister was using the carrier quite a bit to manage her newborn and 2 1/2 year old.

All these things make me happy, babywearing grandpas, Mr. Single-no-kids getting the whole babywearing thing, and a mom to a new baby finding tools to make life easier.

The warm fuzzies I get from all this happy babywearing actually manifest themselves in a smile as I sit here and type.

Happy Babywearing everyone!

Friday, October 23, 2009

My crazy girl

It's Red Ribbon week. To celebrate the school is having all those "fun" days that kids love. Drug awareness week. Lovely. Grace has no idea what drugs are and now she's celebrating them at school. I find some irony in that.

Yesterday she wore crazy socks. (Actually they were Baby Legs, but nobody knew except the two of us.) Today is crazy hair day.

The kid is crazy. REALLY crazy.

Okay, maybe not. She's pretty modest. This is all she would let me do.

I'm okay with that. It's different. She's stepping out of her confort zone just a little. To her it's crazy. That's enough. I'll let her be that crazy. And we'll do our best to keep her away from drugs. I promise. Red ribbons or not.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Barbie movies

I just got off the phone with a fellow mom to a preschool girl. Her little girl has been sick the last couple days so today she kept her little one home from school and went and got her a Barbie Movie. She told me this with some guilt.

But, I don't think she needs to have guilt about buying a Barbie movie. I don't think they are what people assume they are.

In all the Barbie movies I've seen so far (and let me tell you, there have been quite a few), I actually like Barbie. Why? Lots of reasons.

In the movies Barbie is beautiful, graceful, kind and gentle. She's a good friend. She's honest and straightforward. She's intelligent, realistic, and determined. She's brave, unselfish and has a huge heart. Even if people reject her or tell her she can't do something that needs to get done, she finds a way to do it with or without their help. And on top of it all, she's beautiful in a very simple way.

Barbie. Yes, I'm impressed. Frankly, I'm more impressed with her than I have been with any other character my girls are drawn to. I don't have a lot of guilt getting them Barbie movies. There's good stuff in there.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm so sad

I can barely admit why I'm sad without feeling some emabarassment.

After moving to Idaho and watching the potatoes grow for the season and getting all jazzed to get in on potato harvest and figure it out and then share it with you because I'm sure you are just as excited about it as I am . . .

I missed it.

I have a few pictures, but nothing spectacular.

And I have lots of questions about the hows and whys of the harvest.

But now they are going to have to wait.

Probaby until next season.

Maybe I'll get over my embarassment enough to at least show you the few pictures I did get.

Darnit anyway.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Of tea parties

Of tea parties, giant cupcakes, whipped cream, sprinkles, and cherries on top.

Lots and lots and lots of whipped cream. Pink, purple, orange and yellow whipped cream.

Yes, those are cherries on top.

And they are ready for the party. It's a tradition at grandma's house. And they spend the whole day baking for it.

Making memories. It's what it's about.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Why babies should never sleep alone

In light of my last post I've been thinking about this. And then one of my FB friends (thanks Arie) posted a link to this study. It's called Why Babies should never sleep alone: A review of the co-sleeping controversy in relation to SIDS, bedsharing and breast feeding.

It's a long read, but a good one. I will finish it, but before I do I need to blog.

Here's what I know about co-sleeping from my experience. I have three children. I birthed all three of them, nursed all three of them and have co-slept with all three of them.

On some level I have learned that parenting is about instincts and following those instincts. My instincts did not tell me that my fresh-from-the-womb baby needed to sleep in a crib in another room. My instincts did not tell me that my two-month-old should be sleeping through the night. My instincts did not tell me that a crying baby should be left in a room to figure it out for herself.

What I figured out really rather quickly was that my fresh-from-the-womb baby slept better when she was close to me. She got less fussy when she was hungry if I had her close to me and was able to recognize sooner that she was hungry. She nursed better when she had that need met before she became hard to soothe. She was soothed faster at the breast than she would have been had I needed to fix a bottle. Everyone in the house slept better if we were all in the same bed and her squirms woke me up enough that I could roll over and nurse her back to sleep. My instinct told me that babies are babies and they need to be warm and secure. My instict told me that I was that source of warmth and security, not the crib with the snug fitting mattress. The crib always seemed so cold to me anyway.

Some of my very favorite memories of those first days with my girls has been of them asleep all curled up on me. I remember with eache of them just sitting there and soaking it in, willing that moment to be permanently embedded in my being.

The last two babies insisted from the early hours that they sleep on their tummy on my chest. It has been the only place they seemed comfortable. And I don't know how they could get any closer to me. I knew their every breath and woke at any squirm or grunt. And if for some odd reason I actually tried to put her down on her back, where we are told a baby is "supposed" to be, it didn't matter how deep asleep she was, she would wiggle and grunt and squirm and within less than 5 minutes be wide awake telling me she was not happy with where she was.

To me this all seemed logical. Sometimes I wondered if maybe it was me just finding the easy way out. Maybe we shouldn't be holding her to sleep. Maybe the crib was the best place for her. Maybe she would never be independent or learn to self-soothe. Maybe I was doing it all wrong and they would all nurse until they were eighteen and we would have them all in bed with us until just before they left for college.

But then I realized how silly that was.

I also would watch people who didn't have the same easy-way-out attitude about parenting that I seemed to have. There was something different about it. It seemed so unnatural to me. One time I was at a social gathering and one of the ladies there had a new baby. It was his bedtime and she just went and put him in the other room. It broke my heart to listen to him crying in there. And she commented, "I don't hold my babies." Simply put, I do not understand that. I was actually a bit horrified by the thought of it.

This morning I woke up to three beautiful girls in my bed. All three of them jockeying for position next to mom. The one-year-old was there all night--she isn't always, but last night she needed to be. The thee-year-old is a constant after about 2am. On the very rare occasion that I wake up and she isn't there, I actually worry about her. I've even gone so far as to jokingly call her a parasite of sorts since she has to be SO close to me--my little bed bug I guess. And the six-year-old now shows up only on occasion, when she needs to. It makes me happy that she still needs snuggles.

And before I know it I'm covered in giggling girls. These three sisters who come in to snuggle with mom and with each other. This is what we've created by letting them sleep with us when they need to. When I was pregnant with Violet they would raspberry my tummy. Violet was initiated early I guess.

My instinct tells me there is nothing wrong with our arrangement. And now I'm going to read this study to see what it has to say about it.

ETA: The intent of this post is not to make anyone feel judged or slighted in any way. My intent is to encourage anyone who is reading this to listen to what your instincts are telling you.

I also realized that I don't like to sleep alone. Recently my husband was gone for a week of training and I did not want to go to bed. If I as an adult don't like to sleep alone, what about a little, tiny person who is fresh from the womb?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What I wish someone had told me while I was pregnant with my first baby

A few years ago I got an email from one of my friends from high school. The subject line was "Knocked Up" and she was basically announcing that she and her husband were pregnant and looking for advice about babies.

So, being the opinionated friend that I am, I sent her a big long email with all the stuff I could think of that I wished someone had told me while I was first pregnant and looking into that parenting vortex.

And a few months later I got another email from another friend who was newly pregnant and looking for advice. And a little later, I got another one.

So eventually I had this email all ready to go for anyone who asked.

Then I got my own website. And I decided it would be fun to put something like that on my site. It's been there under my IFAQs ever since.

Today I decided it is blog worthy, with a few additions.

Keep in mind that this is just what I've learned on my parenting journey. I realize that it absolutely reflects my parenting style and personality and you can take it all with a grain of salt. But it is honestly a whole lot of the things I do wish someone had taken the time to tell me when I was pregnant the first time.

-Get pictures of you pregnant. You are cute. You just might not feel cute.
-What are you having? Piglets. Puppies. Whatever.
-We left something as a surprise--gender, name, both--doesn't matter. Makes it more exciting for other people I think. And once the baby comes, it's fun to tell the anxious folks (grandparents in particular) and hear their reactions.

Child birth:
-Don't listen to horror stories. The people who share them to scare you are all dumb and you are going to be a champ.
-You get to decide what they do to you, not them. If you don't want poked, don't let them poke you. If they look at you like you are crazy, give them the "I'm the pregnant one here. It is all about me right now" look. Kick them if you have to. Well, maybe not kick them, but that can be worked into the look. And see if you can get your OB/MW to write it in your chart.
-Your husband will never know what it's like to be pregnant or in labor. That's okay. He's a good guy and I'm sure he'll be great in the delivery room.
-A good doula is a great investment. Another person. Another advocate. And she is there the whole time to reassure you that everthing is normal, rub your back, get the nurse, get ice, get a hot pack, help you in and out of the tub, help your husband help you, etc. Nurses are not there the whole time and their job is to poke you.
-Your body knows what it is doing. If you hit a wall, give it 10 minutes and maybe have them get you some juice or pop. A little sugar goes a long way.
-If you don't want to have drugs, make up your mind and they are not an option. Tell everyone involved that they are not an option. If you think you might want them, that's okay and you'll probably end up getting them. Personally, I broke my toe while pregnant with number 2 and found that to be much more painful than labor. I took drugs for my toe but didn't with my labors. A great site for thinking through what you want and don't want.

-They are beautiful. They are fragile. But they are tough little things. After all, they were just squeezed down a small tube into a cold, bright world.
-You get to decide how much they poke your baby, too. And asking them to wait until you decide is fine.
-Wear your baby! It's the best thing about babies. Whether it's a wrap, pouch, ring sling or mei tai, it's one of the greatest joys of being a parent. (And I might have a lead on some great mei tais--oh wait, I make them! Hahaha!) Seriously, wear your baby. And get your husband to do it, too.
-You can't really spoil a baby by holding him/her too much. Some babies like to be held, some have a limit. If you want to hold your baby all the time, you should. And you should do it guilt free. If your baby wants to be held all the time, you should get a few good carriers and hold that baby as much as that baby wants to be held.
-Breastfeeding is great. You will never look at your boobs the same again. Your boobs will never look the same again. Your boobs will not be yours again for a while. You will also realize that you've never SEEN your boobs that many times in a 4 hour period. EVER. And how did that boob get bigger than the baby's head?? But the convenience and health benefits far outweigh any of that.
-Learn to nurse in bed--everyone sleeps better that way. We put our kids to bed in their beds and they wake up in ours. Weird how that happens. Drunk people, obese people, and drunk obese people shouldn't sleep with their children. And sleeping on the couch with a baby isn't a good idea.
-Nurse at home like you want to in public. Strechy camisoles are great under regular shirts. Shirt goes up, Cami goes down with the nursing bra. No big HEY LOOK AT ME I'M NURSING! blanket. And you don't chain yourself to the public bathroom. I always just found a quiet corner with a chair. There are lots of those around. And if you get really good at it, only other mamas who nurse in public and their husbands will know what you are doing. And they'll smile at you in a way that says, YOU GO GIRL!!! And nursing in a carrier is a fabulous thing to learn as well.
-Babies don't need to take up as much space as Walmart thinks they do. You don't need the high chair, the bouncer, the swing, the jumper, the playmat, the other jumper, that giant stroller, the little stroller, the playpen, AND the 101 other giant plastic gadgets they make you feel like you can't live without. One or two of them is good. A high chair is good when they start sitting up. You get to decide.
-Don't read parenting magazines. They only freak you out and are out to make money off of you by making you paranoid. Wanna know how to install a carseat and put your kid in it properly? Go down to the fire station and ask. If they can't tell you, they know where you can find out. Want to know about child proofing your house? Have a friend with small children over and the kids will show you what you need to do in less than 10 minutes
-Give cloth diapers a chance..
-A baby's wants are a baby's needs. A le Leche League leader at the meetings I went to always said that. Babies only want what they need. They need fed, changed, and a sense of security. We are their feeders, changers, and we are their security. Hold them when they cry, feed them when they are hungry, change them when they need changing. By doing this we teach them that they can trust us and count on us when they need us. That makes for happy, healthy, confident kids.

Do you have anything you'd like to add to my list? Please do!

Friday, October 16, 2009

I covet a culvert

I covet a culvert. You know those big round long tubes that they put under roads so water can get to the other side without destroying the road? I want one. A big long one.

It came about on a Friday afternoon. We went to the pumpkin patch by grandma's house in Oregon.

And they had this hay maze. And when you got to the end, you went up a bunch of stairs and then you . . .

And yes, I did too. Because Brent was the one with the baby this time. And someone had to make sure the kids didn't get lost in the maze. And because grandma bought three stickers and insisted that I go. I love that woman.

But I wonder if she had an ulterior motive. Like she just wanted to see this:

No matter, it was totally fun. A plastic culvert makes a FAST slide. And they have about two extensions at the bottom because you just keep going after you shoot out.

Grandma and daddy laughed pretty hard at me. But what they don't know is that I'm serious about asking for a culvert for my birthday this year--which also happens to fall on Christmas. And I know they are both reading this, so now they know what I want for Christmas. And my birthday. And really they brought it on themselves by laughing at me.

The girls loved this hay castle.

The culvert slide that went down the right side? I went down it at least twice. They laughted at that, too.

A while back I asked that wonderful husband of mine if he would make me a cider press this winter. He said he'd give it a shot. And then we saw this:

A cider press with hydraulics. I think his wheels are turning. I didn't ask for hydraulics, but if he can figure it out, I'm not going to argue. And I'm not going to be surprised if he does. Because he's that way. After all, he does have the ultimate man purse, and now a giant shop to go with it.

Violet got in on some action, too. The little goat liked her.

And the geese were so loud. They were having a caniption about something. And I just HAD to have a picture of a Goose with geese. Because I'm crazy like that.

And then we did the corn maze (we may have cheated) and went to look for pumpkins. Calla looked and looked for a tiny one, because that was what she wanted. And then she spotted them. A whole big neat pile of them.

**GASP** "Baby Punkins!"

Oh she was SO happy.

And Grace got her beautiful white pumpkin.

And we got some apple cider and we went home.

Good trip to the pumpkin patch. And now I must figure out how to get a culvert. Before I get too old for one.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

So you know those great pockets??

I'm excited about them. And I'm persuing a business venture involving them. I have some testing to do and then if all goes well, YOUR POCKETS will be available on your favorite carrier before the end of November!

That's right, your favorite mei tai, soft structure, and even your favorite pod could come with those fabulous pockets everyone has been waiting for so patiently!

So no, I didn't pull the rug out from under ALL of you. ;-)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Two days, 800 miles, 6 stitches and a puking baby

**WARNING** If you are a little bit squeamish at the thought of blood or puke, don't read this. There isn't a LOT of blood and not a lot of puke, but there is enough to make the squeamish squirm.

So this week has been nuts. And today is only Thursday. We spent the better part of this week getting ready and getting on the road. Late nights, kids so excited to go to grandma's house (haven't seen them since June) and a couple days in the car.

I took the kids in the morning on Tuesday to the photo shoot for the International Babywearing Conference. Brent met us there and we were on our way. But first we stopped at the Starbucks in Idaho Falls. Because that's the last (and first) Starbucks for a good 1,400 miles. The only Starbucks on the planet that doesn't have another Starbucks a block away. But that's okay because it has saved me a lot of money since we moved to Idaho.

Two of the three kids fell asleep, the third one was happy and quiet and we made it to our "best case scenario" destination--Ontario, Oregon. And we found a hotel. And ordered pizza. And went for a walk because it was a beautiful night. And came back and got ready for bed and crawled into the two full size beds we had pushed together and were trying to get the kids settled in when it happened.

Calla's head bounced off this:

It was one of those things that happened that you just know that it wasn't good. And that you were now going to be up until at least 1 am because you were going to spend some time sitting in the ER waiting for them to sew your kid's pretty little head back together.

Speaking of pretty little heads, Violet was on the table the other day (her new trick) and I took her off telling her that I didn't want her on the table. And Calla pipes up, "Because you don't want her to fall off and break her pretty little head."

The kid cracks me up. And then two days later she ended up needing to get her pretty little head sewn back together.

Brent took her in and I stayed with the other two girls at the hotel room. Brent said Calla was a real trooper and was the perfect little patient. The doctor and nurse were super and certainly contributed to the positive experience. It was obvious they had stitched kids up before. Brent said he asked if there were any alternatives to stitches, and the doctor said they could glue it together, but stitches were a better alternative for this particular wound. "See that white in there? That's her skull."

I guess it figures that Calla would be the first kid to get stitches.

The next morning we piled back in the car and headed west. Everything was going great. Until about an hour and a half from our final destination when Violet started puking.

Poor kid. We just had to keep going because we were SO close. I sat back there with her and kept her cleaned up the best I could. She fell asleep for about half an hour of it, which was good.

But we made it. Violet isn't puking any more. And we got pancakes for breakfast. And we got the first decent night's sleep in at least four nights.

So, two days, 800 miles, 6 stitches and a puking baby later, we are here. And today we are just going to hang out and relax with grandma and grandpa and hopefully get a little rest.

Frankly, the whole thing sounds a whole lot worse all squished together in one sentence than it was. It felt like a pretty good trip, actually.

Is that weird?

Monday, October 5, 2009

I think I need to get some snow boots

When it snowed here the other day, Brent went into work and told some people at the office, "You know, in Washington we had this thing called Fall. It cooled off, the leaves got really pretty. You should try it some time."

Yesterday we learned that we were supposed to wake up to snow and he started in again. "You know, I think it was fall today and yesterday for a couple hours. I think that's how it is here. Fall tries to come, it just has to be sneaky about it."

I think he's right. It was fall for a few hours this weekend. Just long enough for him to get in a bunch of wood. I guess it's fair enough though. In Washington, I think it's winter for just a few hours. And everything stops for those hours because two inches of snow is paralyzing. Coming from Montana, that was always odd to me, but I get it now.

And now I think we might need a snow blower. Really, I think we do.

Anyway, today we did wake up to snow. About two inches of it.

The girls got all bundled up and are out playing in it as I type. It's perfect snow man snow, actually. I should go help them, but we're going to Oregon tomorrow and I need to get all my stuff done so we can get out of here.

I also need to get some snow boots. That is going to be an investment I will need to make pretty soon.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I GOT IT!!!!!

I'm so excited. I finally figured out what to convince my kids to be for Halloween. Super Hero sisters.

Amazing Grace

Super Calla

and . . .

drumroll please (because Grace and Calla have had those super hero names since they were born and I just figured out Violet's tonite when daddy was reading a book about butterflies . . . Ultra Violet.

Yes, Ultra Violet.

I'm so stinkin' excited.

Friday, October 2, 2009

That boy

Yesterday a friend came over with her two kids and we worked on some shirt designs for the conference. She has a boy who is about Calla's age. Nice boy, really. It was a good afternoon considering my kids were so tired they could barely handle themselves.

When daddy got home Calla was so excited. "Dad! Look what that boy taught us!"

Honestly, I don't think it EVER occurred to my girls to go down the stairs like that.

Because they are girls. Currently they are obsessed with drawing and coloring. Calla is teaching herself how to write the alphabet, which I find phenomenal.

Grace is practicing, too.

But you get a boy over here, and suddenly they are sliding down the stairs head first on their front sides.

I'd better hide the sleeping bags next time a boy comes over. I've heard those are popular items on stairs.

Oh, in fact I think at our first house in Washington there was a hole in my wall where a boy's head went through it when he was sliding down the stairs head first in a sleeping bag. Actually, I know there was a hole in the wall because of that. But Brent fixed it.

True story. And if anyone ever tells you that boys and girls are not different, tell them they need to go to preschool for a day and do a little observation of the two different genders.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

About the conference

You have to check out these pictures.

Because they are fabulous.

Absolutely fabulous.

They are for the babywearing conference that will be here in Idaho next summer.

The photoshoots have been a total ball.

And the pictures are gorgeous.

Did I mention that already?

Oh well.

It's worth mentioning again.

Become a fan of our Facebook page and get all the updates!

Happy Babywearing! And come to Idaho next summer for the conference!