Friday, October 31, 2008

Can't Get Enough of This Face!

For Amanda and others who have asked,
here is another picture of our sweet Benjamin!

Number Charts

Just like learning colors is more that just knowing color names, understanding numbers is more than just saying, "One, two, three." Last year, an activity in Gavin's math book had him making a chart to learn the numbers 1 through ten. For the number 1, he glued one Cheerio on the line. For the number 2, he glued two Cheerios and so on. He liked the activity so much that we also made a poster for the numbers 11-20. This really helped him connect the written numeral with the amount it represented.

It wasn't long after he made these charts that he began to grasp the pattern of numbers. He realized that after twenty came twenty-one and then twenty-two and then twenty-three... and that the same pattern held for the thirties and forties...

He made it his personal goal to learn to count to one hundred. Since charts had worked so well before, I made him a chart with all the numbers 1 through 100. At first, he used it as a cheat sheet, but within a week, he could count to 100 without looking.

(Another fun tool we used was Five Little Monkeys Play Hide and Seek which has the mischievous monkeys counting to 104.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wordless Wednesday-- Other Milestones

There's been a lot of baby talk around here lately, but we've had a few "big kid" milestones achieved, too!

First visit from the tooth fairy!
First day of ballet class!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mother's Helper

Along with our society's assumption that a woman will only have one or two children has come the idea that a woman can/should/must handle everything alone following birth. Those women in Colonial days had it right! When a woman was expecting a baby, her sisters, friends, and neighbors gathered around her to assist. First they supported a woman through her labor. (While today the concept of birth at home without a medical doctor is viewed as unusual at best and dangerous at worst, just a few years ago, this was the norm!) Then after the baby was born, the women stayed around helping to care for the mother, care for her other children, cook her meals, clean for her, gather things from her garden. Once a postpartum women had fully recovered, she was quick to return the favor. No one was expected to handle it all single handedly. People often lived in extended families (no nursing homes!) so women worked together within the home to handle the duties of the entire household.

When Ben was 10 days old, Brian had to go back to work so my sister, Kati, came to stay with me for a week. She was my Colonial woman! Having an extra set of hands was invaluable! She played games, held Ben, made cookies with the kids, washed dishes, folded laundry, read stories, changed diapers, worked on colors with Owen, got little ones dressed, helped us on an outing to ballet class and the library. The list goes on! If only I could employ her services full time! Even once a week! She even taught me a lesson, but that's another blog post!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Learning Without "School"

Having just given birth, I have had no time or energy to jump back into homeschooling the kids. We were prepared ahead of time to take a week or two off to recuperate and concentrate on life! However, thinking back on the past two weeks, I've realized just how much learning Gavin and Maddie and even Owen have been doing.

We read picture books while Ben nurses. We went outside and collected leaves, acorns, and an interesting feather. We read a biography of John Smith. After finishing a book about Francis, the kids had me look up badgers in our giant animal book. They played color games and strategy games. They colored and made crafts. They recorded the weather for each day on a chart.

Practical skills were honed, too. They helped give the baby a bath. They made cookies. They sorted and put away laundry. They learned to put a CD in the player and turn it on!

It goes to show you don't need textbooks and worksheets to get an education.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A New Adventure in Breastfeeding

I've always had a fairly easy time nursing my babies. Sure, I had some soreness when I nursed my first. And I did have mastitis when Maddie was an infant and I was tandem nursing two. (It is hard to not become engorged when you have that much milk!) However, I've never had real difficulties until Ben was born.

After we brought Benjamin home from the hospital, I noticed that he had a hard time latching on. The bit of soreness I developed in the hospital became extreme pain while nursing him. I used Lansinoh which helped slightly but not nearly enough. I started noticing that his tongue looked a little funny. My suspicions were confirmed when we visited the pediatrician to have Ben's cord clamp removed when he was four days old. The doctor pointed out that Ben had a short frenulum, also known as tongue tie. The piece of skin that connects the underside of the tongue to the mouth was too short, making him unable to stick out his tongue to get a proper latch. The pediatrician assured me that he would probably outgrow it, and as long as he was gaining weight (he was!) and I was not having pain with nursing (hmmm!), we could let it go for now. He added that some people feel it is better to not have their babies go through the trauma of having the problem corrected when formula is an option.

I went home and promptly did my own research. I found out that the tongue clipping procedure is actually very simple and almost painless to small babies. As a child grows, the frenulum gets tougher and therefore, more painful to cut. I also read a list of reasons to go ahead with a clipping as opposed to waiting it out. Several-- poor latch, pain while nursing, and making a "V" shape with the tongue while crying-- fit our situation.

Having successfully nursed my older three children, formula or bottles was not an option for me. But the pain continued to get worse until I was in tears at the beginning of each nursing session. I finally broke down and called the pediatrician's office and told them I wanted Ben's tongue clipped. They were very nice about it and referred me to an Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist who gave me an appointment for 4 LONG, PAINFUL DAYS AWAY! Deciding to make the best of it and realizing the problem was a poor latch, I worked with him to latch better and the pain did decrease.

Yesterday, was the big day. The ENT doctor quickly agreed that we needed to clip his tongue. Ben slept through the beginning when the doc was examining him and applying a topical anesthetic. He whimpered when the doctor actually made the cut, but that was more from being woken from his nap then from pain. As soon as the cut was made and they made sure there wasn't excessive bleeding (there wasn't-- just a spot of blood), I was able to nurse him. Wow! What a difference. I am still having to be patient with Ben as he re-learns his latch, but my pain is almost gone! I am so thankful I did my own research and decided to have this done.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Life Around Here

Ben is now 9 days old! I can't believe how fast the time is flying. I told Brian before Ben was born that I wanted to take the time to really appreciate every day this time. With my other kids, I got so overwhelmed with housework and what needed to be done that the first few months passed in a blur. Thankfully, God is answering my prayer and I am loving every minute of this life with our new blessing!

The transition this time has been the easiest by far. The older kids are old enough to help and even hold Ben for short periods of time while I fix a snack or go to the bathroom. Ben is a very laid back baby. He is the first of my kids to not nurse every hour! It is more like every 2 hours for him. He is also the first of my kids to really sleep somewhere other than my arms. This morning, I put him in his Moses basket (or "Jesus bed," as Maddie says) while Brian and I cleaned the upstairs. After lunch, he took a nap in it while I bathed, too. What a luxury. He sleeps in bed with us at night so I'm right there if he needs to nurse. As a result, I feel rested during the day. Maybe this will all change tomorrow when Brian goes back to work and I'm on my own, but for now...

I am happy to report that there has been NO sibling rivalry in this house. The only rivalry has been the arguing over who gets to hold Ben next!! I believe that a lot of kids have sibling rivalry and jealousy because it is expected of them. Most kids love having a new baby in the house! My kids certainly do. Gavin has already asked when we are going to have another baby. He says we need 100 babies.

Holding my 2 baby boys

Bonding with Baby Ben

"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Disclaimer

I am writing this to give myself a break more than anything. As much as I love to blog and write about what I'm passionate about, I have five more important things in my life right now. I have a precious newborn and three precious other children who I am taking every minute to enjoy right now. When they are all asleep, I also have my best friend-- a dedicated, loving husband to spend time with! So...I am letting myself off the hook. I may end up posting as much as ever, but I also may go missing for a week! Just wanted to let everyone know that if that happens, everything is okay! Feel free to drop me an e-mail anytime. And for those of you close by, stop in and see us. We welcome company and the chance to show off the new little one.

Quick update: Benjamin visited the pediatrician yesterday and is already 2 ounces over his birth weight so he is growing like a weed. He has a short frenulum (the little flap of skin under the tongue) which is making nursing painful for me, but obviously not a problem for him considering the weight gain. Keep us in your prayers!

Monday, October 13, 2008


While Blogger was faithfully putting out a few of my prescheduled posts, I was busy going from this...

to this...

Benjamin Cooper *** was born on Friday, October 10, 2008 at 7:33 pm! He was our tiniest baby at only 7 pounds, 6 ounces, but our longest at 21 inches. Maybe he'll be like his sister-- tall and thin! I had a wonderful natural labor (though it was a bit long). I'll share details sometime!

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Few More Details...

I thought it was about time to share more about my upcoming winter contest! I love babywearing. I didn't have a lot of success with Gavin. I was given a sling when he was about 5 months old and he didn't seem to enjoy being held that tightly. When Maddie came along, I was more determined to get her to like it. For one thing, with Gavin being less than 2, I needed the extra hand to take care of him while still holding her. She loved it and we used the sling until it became too uncomfortable to hold her in it while pregnant with Owen. By the time, Owen was born, I was hooked on babywearing. I used the sling at home while cooking and cleaning, and I never went out without it. I ended up buying a sling just to keep in the van so I would never be caught without!

With Baby Benjamin due anytime, I've been busy collecting slings again! I have quite a collection built up and I plan to begin reviewing the different brands and styles on my blog this fall and winter. That brings me to my contest! With so many slings, I've decided to share the wealth. Sometime this winter, I will be hosting a giveaway. You veteran babywearers will get a chance to add another to your collection. Or maybe those who have never tried babywearing will get a chance to begin something new. Or maybe you can win a sling to give as a baby gift to a new mom!

Can't wait!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wordless Wednesday-- My Trio

Regardless of when Baby decides to make his appearance, we know these are the last few days with only three kids. These are the last few days that Owen is the baby of the family. These are the last few days of life as we currently know it. Brian and I took a few pictures this weekend to remember these days...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Learning Patience

For some reason, I am having a more difficult time waiting at the end of this pregnancy than I have at the end of my other pregnancies. Maybe it is because Owen was born early (in fact, had already been born by this point)... Maybe it is because I am so uncomfortable and am ready to have a baby in my arms, not my belly...

Regardless of the reason, I have been really grumpy and down the past week or so. Thankfully, not being pregnant himself :-), Brian has a little more perspective on the situation. A few mornings, I have woken up and said, "Ugh! Another day..." and he will respond, "Yes, another day closer."

I read a scripture this week on one of my not-so-good days that really convicted me. Psalm 84:2 says, "My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." Shouldn't HE be what I'm longing for-- even more than my desire to birth my baby?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Baby Party

With this being my fourth baby, I didn't really expect a baby shower. However, a group of ladies in my family decided to take me out to lunch today at Olive Garden to celebrate the new blessing soon to arrive. What a fun time to be together and talk...and eat!

<-----Gammy (my mom's mom), MomMom (my dad's mom) and my sister, Kati

my mom, me, and Aunt Linda (my mom's sister)----->

my little sister, Bekah

They put together a really wonderful gift basket, too! It included paper plates, plastic cups, paper napkins and disposable silverware so we won't have to do dishes after Ben arrives! What a treat. And inspired by my blog, they had also included several gift certificates for food so I don't have to cook!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Does He Understand?

As my pregnancy has progressed I've been wondering how much Owen really understands what is happening. When I was expecting Maddie, Gavin was still a baby himself. (He was only 19 1/2 months when she was born.) He knew that I had something in my tummy, but I don't think he could grasp that it was another person who would be joining our family. Fast forward to Owen's arrival. Maddie had just turned two when he was born and was extremely mature and verbal for her age. We had no doubt that she was fully aware of everything that was going on.

Owen falls somewhere in between. He is two so he is older than Gavin was when welcoming a new sibling, but, though his vocabulary grows by the day, he is still more of a baby than Maddie was at the same age. When we first found out we were expecting a boy and then named him Benjamin, Owen thought it was funny because he has a Thomas engine named Benjamin. He called my tummy Baby Ben, but he also started to call his train, Baby Ben. I was afraid he was expecting a train to come out of me in October!

I've been reading him books in preparation for the new arrival, but we had a definite ah-ha moment in Chick-fil-A several weeks ago. We were sitting in a booth next to a family with an infant. He looked at the baby and said, "," and then patted my stomach and said, "Mama has baby in tummy." It was at that moment that I knew he connected the babe in arms to what was growing in me.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fall Recipes

Fall foods are my favorite! As much as I like the salads and grilled food of summer, nothing beats the warm smells coming from the oven in October and November! These are some of the foods I especially love to make and eat!


1 pound ground beef or ground sausage 
1 medium onion, chopped
2 t. garlic
28-oz. can diced tomatoes
2 15-oz. cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 16-oz. can tomato sauce
4-6 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. pepper

Cook meat, onion, and garlic in large pot until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain fat. Stir in tomatoes, kidneys, tomato sauce, chili powder, basil, and pepper. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1 hour...or all day. Makes 10 cups.


Harvest Bread

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
3/4 cup chocolate chips
-- the best part!! 
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Cream butter and sugar and add eggs. Beat well.Blend in pumpkin puree. Sift dry ingredients and add.Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Pour into 9x5 pan and bake at 350 for 60-70 minutes.


Sweet Potato Biscuits

Combine 2 cups (or 23 oz can) mashed sweet potatoes and 1 stick of melted butter.Add 4 t. baking powder, 1 t. salt, 3/4 c. sugar, and 3 c. flour. (I often use half white flour, half whole wheat. I actually like the taste better.) Mix to combine.  Roll out dough and cut out. (I use a small juice glass.)  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. (Yields approximately 20 biscuits.) 
The kids and Brian LOVE these. In fact, we eat them year round. Neither of us likes to eat sweet potatoes plain, but this is an easy way to get their nutritional value!

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