Friday, July 31, 2009

Michael is Five

Michael's birthday was way back at the very beginning of July. July 1st, in fact. So it's high time to commemorate the special day of this special guy on the ol' blog.

This is how our Mikey looked one year ago at his fourth birthday. I think he's involved in a birthday water balloon fight at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Look at him go!

Michael is the "mover" of our little tribe. He's rarely caught on what used to be film in a still position. Unless he's reading a book. Those two sentences could really describe most of what Michael is about; reading and constantly in motion when not reading. (You pick which two sentences. I'm not sure that one of them is really a sentence)

Our Mikey is also very much a snuggler and toucher. Tactile activities are his very favorites. They are also some of the messiest and therefore more rare in our house. So for his birthday, I thought we'd set up a bunch of Michael-style activities outside and let the kids all rotate through them.

We have the Cormeal and Cars Station. Josiah decided it didn't taste good after, oh, four or five tries.

And then the Painting Station. I love this easel. It lives in our family room. The white board portion gets the most use. It's a good place to get visual with our school lessons. But we really don't paint as often as Michael would like. This is Mercy painting the clippy thing rather than the paper.

Daniel is here at the Bubble Station...He's demonstrating good form with the bubble blower. Michael spends his time at the Bubble Station by figuring out exactly how the battery powered bubble blower works... or would work if he hadn't been so eager to know. I considered giving Michael the broken motor from our dishwasher for his birthday. Bob said we should maybe think about buying him a "real" gift instead. We saved the motor for another day and when we did give it to him to take apart, he was thrilled. Michael seems to have a real interest in how things work.

The Musical Instrument Station. Michael loves to play with these toys. During his years as a three and four year old, he spent so much time drumming on things, his silverware on the table, his Doggie's paws on his head... that it's funny to think how he doesn't do that as much as he used to. There seemed to be maybe a little too much drumming for a small household of many small children during those years. There are several drums in that box and they don't get to come out of their home in the garage except on special occaisions. Like a birthday... or a time when no one is napping.

(I know, you are ready for me to tell you about how I yell "Get off my lawn!" to the neighbor kids in a crotchety old lady voice on account of all the little rules I have. And to that, I say: I can only listen to so many things at once and still be cheerful about it.)

The Birthday Boy at the Painting Station...

And then we had some parties! When it comes to celebrating birthdays, Bob and I try to take it easy. Keep it simple. We've never had a "friend" party where the kids invite their whole Sunday School class or whatever. But when I look at what we did to celebrate Michael's fifth, I feel like we may have broken into a higher level of birthday celebrating. I guess this one makes up for his first birthday during which I did next to nothing to celebrate because I was in the alldaysickness period of my pregnancy with Mercy.

After dinner on his birthday, we ate yummy ice cream sandwiches together...

...and gave him a birthday present: some magnetic building toys called Magformers. Look! They make goofy eyeglasses! And, as it turns out, they are not as greasy as a broken dishwasher motor is.

Then, on the weekend following his actual birthday, we got our families together so they could celebrate with Michael, too. We opted to meet at a park for a bbq with both Bob's family and mine.

It was a big, fun group including grandparents, uncles, an aunt, cousins and a great grandma!

We swam in the lake and played catch and frisbee and ate yummy food.

And here he is! Our wiggly, snuggly, MichaelMichaelMotorcycle is FIVE years old! Happy birthday, Buddy!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


What's got me sweating with fear?

This forecast.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Changes for the laundry

...and some changes for Josiah and ultimately for our budget! Although I'm having a hard time believing it myself, we have, indeed, switched back to cloth diapers.

Now when I say I've "switched back", I mean that from the time Daniel, our first son, was born until he was around a year old, we used wraps and cotton cloth diapers and a diaper service. (And we had leaks and a giant big diaper bottom on our tiny baby- those things I didn't like.) Having someone else do your laundry is nice. But at the time, disposables seemed more convenient for us. Oh and we were moving to our first house and expecting our second son, Michael, as well. So we stopped with the cloth and I hadn't really looked back until about a month ago. A friend of mine wrote about her search for some good baby products and suddenly, cloth diapering became the "answer" to our current budget puzzle.

The Budget Puzzle is probably familiar to many of you with little diapered people. It goes like this:
*Plan to spend X amount for groceries twice a month.
*Plan to adhere to this amount down to the cent so as to be wise with our finances.
*Realize that with three children in some kind of disposable diaper product, a large chunk of X amount will go towards those diapers each payday.
*Try to stagger the purchasing of C@stco sized diaper/pullup boxes so that we are only buying one of them at a time.

Well, this hasn't always worked out. That's why it's a puzzle, see? And it has made it difficult to stay within our grocery budget each payday. But I did some research, worked some numbers and decided that by owning and washing our own diapers, we would save money. (I know that lots of people know this already.)

When I started to look at the different types of diapering systems out there, I got a little bogged down with the details. What's an AIO? Why do I want a pocket in my diaper anyway? Can I really handle the laundry aspect?

Bob and I talked about it. I spoke with my sister-in-law about her experiences cloth diapering her two little boys and was really encouraged. It really sounded do-able.

So this is what we ended up with:

4 applecheeks diaper wraps- chosen for their comfort, durability, presence of snaps rather than velcro, and the fact that they only come in 2 sizes rather than several... Josiah wears Size 2. I use them as a wrap, not as a pocket diaper, at this point because that way, I can use the same wrap for most of the day and only change the insert, unless the whole thing is messy after a large Number 2 incident.

4 Hemp Babies little weeds hemp diaper inserts- chosen for their ability to absorb well, for their size and weight and because they are cheaper than the applecheeks hemp inserts

1 applecheeks bamboo diaper insert- chosen for night time use (along with a Hemp Babies little weeds as a doubler) because it is super absorbent

12 Tiny Tush cloth washcloths

All of this cost around $70 and we ordered most of it from this website. (I spoke with the woman who runs the website and also owns a diapering boutique in the U.S. and she was really helpful when it came time to figure out what might work for us. I chatted away with her on the phone, pumping her for all kinds of diaper advice.)

We have about 15 cotton diapers left over from Daniel's cloth diaper days so we use those during the day. I'm hoping to replace them slowly with something made of hemp or bamboo because they are much thinner and just plain absorb more liquid than cotton.

Right now, I am storing the soiled diapers and wraps in a plastic garbage sack until I'm ready to wash them. I'm hoping to get a special applecheeks bag made for this purpose at some point. I don't really want to have a diaper pail but the garbage sack isn't the best solution. Any one out there use something that works great for them?

The laundry end of things seems to be going well. I do a diaper load about every other day, hanging the clean diapers, wipes and wraps on the line outside to dry. Actually, I really enjoy this part.

So there we are. All the information that's been tossing around inside my head about diapers intermixed with the sunny evening pictures of my not so willing diaper model.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

We're back!

And I have a ton of pictures to commemorate this trip to Cheland. Scroll through 'em quick and get on with your day or study each one for possible hidden pictures and/or secret messages. I just wanted to share as many pictures as I could possibly share with the fun family we spent our week with.

And who did we spend our week with?! All of these people plus a few more that didn't get into this picture. This shot represents the several families from my mom's side who come together in Cheland each year. I think we had the highest attendance this year that we've ever had. There were even a few who made it all the way from New York!

And what did we do?

Hands down favorite kid activity was swimming in the pool. Thanks to our two weeks of swimming lessons, these kids were SO ready for pool play!

We spent time on Grandad's boat, riding along on slow "toodles"...

...focusing on our captain skills...

...and riding with Daddy and all the cousins on the innertube behind the boat. I don't know why I don't have pictures of that- I'll have to dig some up.

Josiah practiced his "bird" sign at the park from the top of the little slide.

Bob and the big boys and I joined the other boy cousins for our first trip to the local water park. This was really fun to do with our new swimmers. I'm so thankful we were able to leave the "littles" with Grammy and Grandad for the afternoon so we could make this the special big boy outing that it was.

When it got too hot, we played inside...

...and sat out on the patio as the evenings became cooler.

Since we were able to stay for almost the entire week this year, there was lots of time to tell the "Interrupting Cow Joke" over and over again.

We ate LOTS of yummy food and were excited to add a new menu to our list of easy Cheland dinners to make for a zillion people: BYOST or Bring Your Own Salad Thingies. By Wednesday night, we were out of ideas for feeding all of us. We had great success by sharing the remaining contents of our fridges to form an enormous salad bar. There was even leftover meat to share with people who have to have that kind of stuff.

And ice cream, too, of course!

While most of our activities had plenty of the sun and water elements we love to enjoy at Lake Cheland, mostly we sat back and watched these little people play and play and play together.

Thankfully, we only have a couple months to wait until we can go back for another little visit with some of our favorite people at our favorite vacation spot.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What IS on the camera?

I have a list of things to do before we head out on vacation in a few days. Things like cleaning up the house so that we don't come home to a dirty mess or dirty mice, for that matter. So, while I have been working on some packing and some general clean up, I've also been doing what we call "dumping the camera" so it will be already to take more. And this job is really the best kind of cleaning I can think of.

So here is a random grouping of pictures from some of our adventures during the last few weeks.

Mercy demonstrates how to wear a Bugle cracker as a hat on one of our recent dinners at the beach.

Ack! The boys are running with sticks!

Wait. Everyone is running with sticks...

Mercy is feeding her babies. See, they each have a high chair of sorts that she has made for them. Josiah appears to be serenading them while they enjoy their meal of cherry soda and peas.

A cozy book and two Tiggers at bedtime...

And one more of our girl!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Flaming Geyser Park

Recently, we took our dinner out to a nearby state park for the afternoon. I thought I'd post some pictures.

It was a hot day and the park was crowded with adventurers innertubing down the river and barbecuing.

We opted for a wander along this tame and refreshing little stream. Someday I'd love to live on some property with a little stream running through for days just like this.

Have a fun Independence Day weekend!