Friday, December 21, 2012

A dash of Christmas love from the Lines family

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2012!! 

We never got around to a Christmas letter or even cards for that matter, so this is what we did instead this year!
 
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Because life is sweet!

Sweet as a Cupcake


First off, I have to give credit where credit is due. This idea and subsequent tutorial came from a Pinterest idea (shocking, I know) The link for this source can be found here: Pinterest cupcake tutorial
So, now that I've confessed, let's get started! Also, just as a side note for those wondering why I am writing a tutorial on something that already has one- because mine are quite a bit different even though hers were my inspiration, and because I had so much fun doing it and taking the pictures along the way that I didn't want it all to be only for my enjoyment
Let's gather the supplies:
  • polyester snow balls
  • sprig of berries (your choice on size and color to achieve your desired end result)
  • hot glue gun and plenty of glue sticks
  • yarn, buttons, beads, glitter (anything you want to adorn the cupcakes with) 
  • scissors
  • cup cake papers/liners 



* I would say that right before and right after Christmas is a great time to shop for these supplies, I was able to get my snowballs and berries for a steal from my local craft store due to the awesome holiday sales they had going on.  

                                      
Directions:

  • Hot glue a spiral onto the bottom of the snowball and place it in the cupcake paper. Squish it down in there really well. 
  • Slowly glue a dot at a time around the edge of the snowball and cupcake paper to make it all stick evenly around, making sure to shape it along the way to maintain a nice round cupcakey look. (roll it around in your hands afterward to make it take proper shape and really bond well)





  • Begin gluing one round at a time your base yarn or "frosting" until you've covered the whole thing. See pictures below.



  • Next, make your ornament hanger. Cut a length of yarn two to three inches long and hot glue the tails to the top center of your cupcake.
     


    • Pull a berry off the sprig and hot glue it into place on top of your hanger tails to hide them and more firmly secure the hanger. 
    • Lastly, top your cupcake! Glue yarn on in a zig zag pattern to make it look like drippy icing, glue buttons on one to make it a polka dot cup cake, glitterize one just for fun, but most importantly, have fun! If you have questions about how to make a cupcake look like any I have pictured below, comment,  and I'll help you out!




      Merry Christmas!!

















    Monday, October 22, 2012

    A Whiny Mom

    Dear Blog readers,
    I am ranting to you today and avoiding facebook, where I would undoubtedly be christened the "overly long, boring, whining, ranting, status updater" Here I know only my friends will come and read it and everyone else can easily ignore!  So read on to find yourself on set of the newest tragedy drama to hit a theater near you, or, if this already sounds like it's not for you- plug your digital ears!
     First off: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! Okay, I feel much better. Maybe now I can relay my day without using profanities every other word. ;) Act one, scene one of this day begins at 7am when everyone in the whole house is awake and every one needs something different. All of you who have children know exactly what I'm talking about- Oldest "I can't find clean underwear!" Youngest "waaaa!(feed me) waaaaa!" Middles "Can we have pancakes for breakfast? With chocolate chips? Syrup?? Do we have butter too?!"  "Mom, Steven won't get out of the bathroom and I have to poooooop!!" "Mom, I think Steven plugged the toilet with too much paper AGAIN!!" Okay I'll stop giving examples, or THIS could take all day!
    After trudging through getting diapers changed, kids wrangled downstairs, read everyone's two favorite books, get a voted on consensus for the breakfast menu and begin cooking, I remember that we have an appointment in town at 9:30am. Well, we have five kids to get ready and live 30-45 minutes from town on a good day. I call the office and sure enough (as is always the case) the appointment can't be moved. So....we turn the grill back off, shove the bowl of pumpkin pancake mix into the fridge, I throw outfits at kids and scramble to jam the littlest two into the shower with me, because there was NO way late or not that I was making a public debut with hair fashioned into a grunge faux hawk styled by grease. I don't know about you, but being late and having to scramble my jets in a hurry makes me a monster. I'd like to say I mean that metaphorically, but I'm pretty sure I really do grow tusks and become feral.  I'm a planner, I love to fly by the seat of my pants, but each component of the flight needs to have some semblance of structure to it...make sense? It doesn't to anyone else either. Call it my adult ADD mixed with a wandering personality glitch.
    We are all in the car, finally. I am making muddy water and gravel fly as I break the sound barrier squealing out of my driveway and onto the highway. I do a mental check as I always do: "Diaper bag, check....though I'm not 100% that there's wipes in it" Crud. "Appointment folder, check. Ohhh except it has some baby food spilled on it." Crud. Maybe they'll give me a new one? I have to go to the store after the appointment to get groceries and a few other things too. " shopping list?" No. Double crud. I hate shopping without a list!! Everything gets forgotten!
    I was told by the secretary that if we were more than ten minutes late we'd likely have to reschedule. As in another month from now, and this was a REALLY important appointment. Looking at the clock....9:32am and we still have a 10-15 minute drive ahead of us. Also, the fat bald guy in front of us that is obviously picking his nose in his cream colored Toyota pickup with the home made wood pallet sides is driving 35mph on a 55mph road. Oh dear, here come my tusks again. Sorry children for the clever and witty new traffic phrase lines you learned from Mommy today. FYI, don't repeat this please!!!
    It is absolutely pouring rain and is 40 something degrees at this point, and I've made sure all the children have coats but forgotten one for myself. Lovely. We slide into a parking spot nearly 20 minutes late to our appointment and I jump out to get the double stroller out of the back, directly into the mother of all mud puddles. Could possibly be called a pond. I am soaked to my knees, and now that my pants are five pounds heavier after sucking up all that water they begin sagging in the back. Just fantastic. So I look like one of "those" moms now. A whole brood of unruly children, my hair plastered to my head and my butt crack hanging out. If I had the option of just going home right at that moment I would have. But alas, we have worked too darn hard to get here so we are not turning around yet! Babies in the stroller, older three given feral barkings to stay with Mama hog or else, we march soggily in.
    This building has two options, a tiny ancient and extremely stinky elevator or the stairs of ultimate doom. Obviously, with a stroller and no ramp options we choose the elevator. Did I mention it was tiny? My three older kids cram in against a corner while I push and pull and have to keep hitting the doors with my butt to keep the automatic door closer from crushing us as we work hard to maneuver. We make it in and begin the slow decent to the second story. When the doors open there is another crowd of people waiting to get in, giving us no room to get out. Also, the stroller is stuck, with three kids pinned to the back wall. After my face flushed to shades of red previously unheard of and I'm pretty sure everyone has seen my entire butt, I get the kids out of the elevator. You'd think this story was nearly over now, but honey, it's not. The dietician graciously meets me in the main waiting room and accepts me into the appointment even though we are ridiculously late at this point. Bless her heart! The kids drive me the normal amount of crazy during the appointment running in and out of the room, asking too many questions, getting into her things, but overall nothing earth quaking or story worthy.
    I think maybe I've finally gotten into the swing of the day and we pack back up into the soggy slush and into our van. We are all like aldente noodles swirling around in cold stew water about now, and we've still got two stops to make and eventually, we must eat lunch since breakfast had been skipped entirely. I swing by and drop off my husbands rented tux without a hitch, and then, we head to Walmart, the one stop hell shop. Believe me, if there were other options for places to shop in our area, I'd do that instead. I'd like to hate Walmart more, but admittedly, I still occasionally go there on days like this, when I need to go to the bank, feed the kids, get groceries and a long list of other items and really really really, don't want to have to go to seven different stores with five kids to achieve all this.
    Once again we all slog into the nasty weather and brave our way into the store of wonders. We deposit the check and head to McDonald's. After we receive our five waters (imagine the glares) eight cheeseburgers with no pickles no onions (double the glares for this) and one large fry to split, we spot a seat. Before we can even sit at it, the antagonists begin their work. I must have a burning beacon on my forehead, because they come after us like zombies after the last piece of roadkill on earth. With their "My, your hands are full" and "Woweee lady, don't you know what causes kids?!" comments. Then, they want to stand in our way and stare at us for a while, because, we're that awesome. So my children begin (of course) their normal banter with these strangers who love to talk to us, straining my patience and making life's lingering moments even longer. The kids have mostly to completely finished their food after almost an hour of pushing and prodding by me and we are ready to reload and begin the shopping palooza. Four year old and infant in the stroller, toddler on my back in the Ergo, four year old being pushed my seven year old in the cart. Here. We. Go!!
    We make it to the produce section with only three people interrupting us to make rude comments. Believe it or not, this is nearly a record! We gather what we need, minus all the things my fried brain has forgotten due to not having a list, and head, bulging arms and overflowing cart, to the checkout line. Baby is screaming now because it's been nearly three and a half hours since poor little bitty has eaten, and the toddlers, are all losing patience faster than me. So, clearly, we were in desperate need of teller who's brain had been so fried by the bleach she used to color her hair that she most likely can no longer do simple math with a calculator. Okay, that was cruel, cash registers are similar to calculators, and with the help of a manager four separate times and 45 minutes later, she completed our transaction.  Yes! Freedom was ours! We had made it in and out of Walmart alive! Home James!! Well, except for the stop at the preschool to drop off the twins since we'd overstayed our allotted time in town and had now missed the bus....but it was still a bright prospect.
    Have you ever had those days riding with a car load of kids who were fighting so badly that you adjusted the music to the rear speakers and blasted them with heavy bass just to get their attention to tell them to be quiet, and quit killing each other or you'd beat them to it? That was today. Eventually, we were at the preschool, and I ran the twins inside and signed them in after explaining my way out of their tardiness, and wondering how crazed I must have really looked over the silent stares I received,  then dodged back out to the car...where my oldest had decided to make the toddler stop crying by getting into my purse and giving him my chocolates. Awesome. I'm seriously beginning to wonder just when this day is going to end.
    Once we were home I unloaded babies, fed them and put them to bed for a nap, and gave my oldest instructions to begin unloading groceries. All was quiet and lovely and peaceful until I discovered that he had become distracted, and had left the bag with the toilet paper and the yarn in it on the sidewalk. Where it was pouring. There's a chance he won't live until the end of this story. Have you ever heard of harder won toilet paper?! You better bet he received the whole lecture in full!
    In conclusion, before you become bored to tears by a profound lack of care for what happens next, I will say, I still forgot to buy a new phone while I was at the store, so I didn't get to call my best friend and tell her all of this, and in sparing facebook the world's longest status while simultaneously sparing my children their lives, you're welcome, for a page out of my life on a very very bad day.
    Great love and blessings will befall all who read this, amen!  

    MamaDonna <3



    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

    More fun with recycled jeans!

    This isn't a tutorial but just a fun picture of my latest project and the links to the two tutorials that I combined to make this fun project so that you can replicate! 



     This is where I got the idea for the ruffles and the liner:
    This is where I got the idea for the basis of the bow:

    Happy upcycling!

    Monday, September 3, 2012

    Zucchini Zucchini Zucchini!


    This must be the year of the zucchini, because I have had them coming out of my ears! If you're in the same boat then this is the post for you. :) This is also the post for you if you're looking for a way to please crowds of hungry people with healthy delicious food! Never was I more delighted than when I whipped up this recipe and my kids not only ate them but devoured them and begged for more!(insert shock and awe) Vegetables. As breakfast food. Can it get better than that? 
    INGREDIENTS: 
    • Zucchini 
    • eggs
    • cinnamon
    • vanilla extract
    DIRECTIONS:

    • Shred your zucchini, skin and all
    • Heat a skillet to around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. (you just don't want to start them in a cold pan, so just the high setting on the stove works)
    • Whip two eggs along with a dash or two of cinnamon and a teaspoon of vanilla extract french toast batter style in a small bowl (minus the milk of course)

    • Add the shredded zucchini to the mixture and use a spoon or your hands to toss the shredded zucchini and get it thoroughly coated. It will be runny ooey gooey, and that's okay. The eggs in it will cause it to all stick together beautifully when cooked. 
    • Thoroughly grease the pan/skillet with your choice of butter or oil. You don't want these babies to stick, and they will if they're not greased up. 
    • Simply grab or spoon a nice ping pong ball size amount of battered zucchini onto your skillet and then flatten to round pancake thickness.
    • Listen to that delectable sizzle. :) check the cakes and flip them when they reach golden brown in color. If your first flap jack comes out crunchy lower your temp and cook longer. My favorite ones were very slightly aldente, but your crowd might not appreciate that like mine did. 
    • Enjoy! This recipe is friendly to doubling, tripling, adding different flavor extracts and any other artistic ambition, just post the different things you tried and how they turned out below in the comment section! 
    p.s. Our favorite topping for this was home made blueberry syrup. Which is just two cups brown sugar to one cup water along with one cup fresh blueberries brought to a boil and then a squirt of maple extract added. Okay, so it's blueberry maple syrup but great on the zucchini cakes none the less. ;)
     
    Happy Munching! 
      

    Wednesday, August 29, 2012

    Adventures in parenting- Episode #1567

    Our adventure starts with baby number four, boy number three, nearly two year old Griffin starting to escape his crib. After three days of hoping he'd magically quit hopping out of the cage, we finally caved and moved the crib out and the toddler bed in. We were milking every day we could out of the captivity of the crib...funny how with your first child you can't wait for those milestones and then each child after that you draw out the inevitable as long as you can. With the first baby your facebook statuses read "Alex just rolled over!!! What a big strong man, can't wait for the next thing!" and "Johnny just took his first step! We'll be blazing trails in the park in no time!" The more seasoned mother's statuses look more like: "Well, Emma just rolled over. That means I only have two more months of peace before the little monster starts pulling the decorations down and eating everything I don't have time to vacuum."...guess which one I am? ;)
    In preparation for this moment we had removed the wardrobe and installed a large cabinet up out of little hands reach to store his clothes, diapers, shoes, etc. (Can you tell we've done this before? How many times have some of you had to re-fold all the contents of a dresser or closet that little hands have found? Let me rephrase that. How many hundreds of times have you had to refold giant mounds of clean clothes?) We put safety plugs in all the outlets, took out anything we thought he could climb up onto and fall off of to hurt himself. The goal here was to make the room kind of like a safe house so that we could just lay him down in his bed and shut the door, allowing him to run around freely and make his own decision to go to sleep. Once again, we'd been here before, and tried many other avenues- Sitting out in the hallway outside of baby's doorway until drunk with exhaustion constantly hopping back off of my perch to reprimand for getting out of bed, for climbing up something, for playing with toys...ugg, no thank you! If there's one thing I've learned, it's that you can't make someone do something. Even if you work really hard to intimidate them into it. (Not that I've ever tried that...;) ) So instead I've grown to appreciate lending a false deaf ear to things. What is this you ask? A false deaf ear? Yes, it's where you can hear Billy and Johnny beating the ever living tar out of each other with the nerf bats, and you can hear Johnny (who had it coming by the way) screaming for mercy, but you smile at your house guests, recross your legs and ask Pam how Gracie is doing in ballet class. You can hear what is going on, but sometimes, you pretend you can't for sanity and mostly, for the child's sake. Children really don't need to be rescued all the time, and if you try, it's you who will need rescuing.
    So, back from that bunny trail we have Griffin in his panic room, err, I mean, safe room. Or so we thought... On the first night I still wound up going into his room multiple times to put the toddler bed back in the corner since his room has two great big windows that dominate a whole wall,  wood floors that make sliding furniture around easy for little people, and it was a duh-ism to this tot to make a stool out of the bed and climb up into the window. Hey, I said I tried not to rescue children too often, not that I wanted to assist them in suicide! Also, he was continually taking the mattress off of the bed and then sobbing because he couldn't get it back on again. After a restless night we had to get more creative, and came up with this:
    Two ties made from cut strips of an old sheet tying the mattress to the bed frame but staying soft and flush so that Griffin wouldn't be too uncomfortable and feel the strips under the sheet once we put it on. Then the whole shebang placed on an area rug that we put hot glue gun style no slip backing on. (If you don't know what that is, let me explain! Just warm up that hot glue gun you have stored away for crafts, and make a zigzag pattern all over the backing of the rug. Let it dry, and then wala! instant non slip rug without the fussy separate backing sheet that always comes out from under the rug to play ugly peek-a-boo.) Plus...we put a few dots of hot glue on the legs of the bed so that he really couldn't move that sucker. (let it dry a few minutes turned upside down and it works the same as the rug)
    Mr. Griffin is now sleeping snug as a bug in his newly made safer safe room and this is one happy mama! How the heck else did you think I'd have time to write this blog post?!
    I hope the sharing of these ideas will spread a little more sanity and parent quiet time to the world!
    <3 MamaDonna

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    What a Watermelon!





    Today I wanted to show you how easy it is to cut and arrange a watermelon for special occasions. :) I had no idea how hard I was making cutting watermelon up on myself until I tried this new technique: 
    Cut the end caps off the melon, place on one of the flat ends on a cutting board, and then slice the rind off vertically. This method wastes the least watermelon, makes the melon easiest to handle, and then presents you with an opportunity to craft with it!
    My watermelon after cutting with above technique and then cutting into rounds

    leaves and flower center cut out
    Fourth of July watermelon (this was before I learned the WAY easier way to cut the watermelon up)

    more petals and leaves

     One of my favorite watermelon ideas (off Pinterest of course!) was to cut the melon into rounds like in the above pic, and then use cookie cutters on it to cut pieces. This is a fun way to make it special for any occasion. As you can see the possibilities are limitless. For my fun little flower tray all I did was use a Christmas holly leaf cookie cutter for the leaves, I had an oval scalloped wreath looking cookie cutter that I bent to be tear shaped for the petals, and then I used a biscuit cutter for the centers!  Arrange aesthetically to your fancy.  Also, to add a little more detail and some whimsy I used a wooden shishkabob skewer  to carve spirals in the flower center, and details into the petals and leaves. Wala!
      Short tutorial, I know, but it's pretty darn simple, so to go on further would be rambling! Happy cutting! ....okay that sounded a little sadistic, so, happy watermelon cutting! :) 

    Oh! One last thing- here is a great link to how to pick an amazing watermelon too. :  http://fifteenspatulas.com/2011/04/25/how-to-pick-a-superstar-watermelon/



    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    Why did I EVER buy yogurt from the store?!


    Making your own yogurt is the easiest thing you'll ever do, and after you've made it, you'll never want to buy it from the store again! 

    Ingredients &  Supplies

    • Large pan or dutch oven (I use my 6 quart stainless steel pan and it works great)
    • Food/Beer thermometer that goes as low as 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and up to at least 185 degrees Fahrenheit
    • A gallon of milk- 2% works well, but you can use any grade you'd like
    • At least 2 TBS of store bought yogurt, or if you choose you could also buy plain yogurt culture from a specialty store. I just found it easier to pick up a 50 cent container of Chobani Greek yogurt, and use that.The higher the culture count and the more different types of cultures the better.
    • A cooler- see directions below if you don't have a cooler *
    • Air tight containers to put the yogurt in- I used mason jars w/lids & rings the first batch, and large sour cream containers the second batch, both worked just fine. The most important thing is that it will keep the yogurt water tight when it's in the cooler. I had one jar whose lid was a little loose and it was an ugly sight the next morning when I opened that particular jar. (Think sippy cup of milk left in the sun)
    Directions

    1. Pour your whole gallon of milk into the pan and heat slowly to 185 degrees Fahrenheit checking frequently with the thermometer so as not to over heat and definitely do not allow to boil. 
    2. As soon as milk has reached the proper temp remove the pan off the stove and put in a cool bath- I filled my sink with cold tap water and added ice cubes to it, and that worked great.   
    3. Again with the thermometer,  monitor the milk temperature until the temp drops to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. 
    4. Take a small bowl full of the 120 degree milk and add your 2 TBS yogurt to it (the amount of yogurt is not exact, so don't worry about being precise) and stir it into a melted slurry.
    5. Pour contents of the bowl back into the milk pot and stir well.
    6. Pour the pan of warm milk into your containers and put the lids on
    7. Put your containers into your cooler and cover the containers to the fill level with the hottest tap water you can get, then shut the lid! 
    8. Leave it to set for 3-10 hours, yes this is a broad range of time, so the key is in your taste. Like tart yogurt? leave it in there the longest amount of time or over night, the longer it sets the more tart it will be. Take it out after only 3 hours for sweeter mellower flavored yogurt. However if it looks runny still when you check it after 3 hours (like mine did on one batch) leave it in there until it at least looks more gelatinous. 
    * if you don't have a cooler,  you can also heat a tea kettle of water up to steamy and boiling and then place the kettle in the center of a large box and place your containers around, but not touching the kettle. Then place towels all around the box and containers to kind of create a sauna in there for it and leave it to set that way.
    Like it?
           I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!!!

    Please leave comments below with any questions you might have! :)

    Sunday, July 1, 2012

    Crochet Fun!



       Today I'm adding this blog post simply to encourage everyone to play around with their favorite craft of the moment! My favorite craft changes day to day- the last few days it has been crochet! To be completely honest and upfront, I know very very VERY little about crochet. Mostly, I did with it what I do with everything; learn enough about it to give me the creative spark, and then hijack it and do my own thing!  I don't read instructions well, I'm a hands on gal, and lets face it- crochet instructions have just GOT to be written in another language!
    So, this isn't a tutorial, but kind of an un-tutorial. Hopefully it gives you the drive to hijack your own project!

         I saw the fun idea to do interchangeable flowers for crochet hats on Pinterest (of course) but when I clicked on the link it took me to an Etsy site. (of course, lol) I knew some of the bare basics of crochet: slip stitching, chaining, single and double crochet stitches, and I had once paid close enough attention to someone doing a project of their own to get a basic idea of how to do the first round of a granny square (more like granny circle in my case) If you do not know these basics, I suggest YouTube, it is FILLED with great self teaching videos! From there I just started my hijacking with the thought that the round base of the granny square could easily be added onto to create a hat. I won't go into too much detail about how I made the hats, this is an "un-tutorial" after all, mostly I wanted to inspire others to play with stitches, watch some YouTube videos on stitches or projects you don't quite get and play around until you've created something fun. :)
         I figured out how to make the interchangeable flowers in the above pic here: Briar Roses Actually, you could use any of the gazillion crochet flower tutorials on YouTube as your interchangeable flowers, just as long as they have a hole in the center large enough to accommodate whatever button you choose. The thing that got me excited was the prospect of my very girly daughter being able to change out the flower to match each of her outfits. Which is why I chose a warm neutral color for the hat, so that I could make flowers in every color and still have it look great on the hat. I have also started making hats for all the kids since the think they're so cool. it's so fun to change each one up and see what I can do!

    Griffin in his "turtle reggae" hat haha!

                                                                                                                                             Like it?

    Sunday, June 3, 2012

    Baby makes SEVEN!!


    Cohen’s Birth Story

           This post is of course, old news, since Cohen is a month old now- but we were a little busy! :)
    Photo taken by Brenda Schaefer Photography (unedited)
                 After being in prodromal labor for days after our last midwife appointment a week prior, we were greatly anticipating Wednesday May 2nd 2012 for a multitude of reasons. The first was that our midwife had told us that if I was more dilated and effaced she may consider breaking my water to progress labor along and so that AJ wouldn’t miss the birth since he worked so far away (about 45 minutes) and my labors were so quick. At six o’clock AJ and I were praying and fretting over my appointment and nearly having an anxiety attack in the waiting room. I was dreading hearing what Laura (my midwife) might say, thinking she’d say I’d gone backwards and was not going to be having this baby anytime soon like had happened to us with my pregnancy with Griffin. Finally it was our turn to see her and she ushered us in and shut the door so she could check me in privacy. After checking me she said I was dilated to a stretchy 5 (woohoo!) and effaced 95% , however, she also said that she would not break my water because she thought I’d go into labor naturally within the night. I was excited, but devastated at the same time. I am a control freak, and my need to have things in order in my life and absolute answers to things had me chomping at the bit over the complete lack of control in this situation. I wanted her to break my water so that I knew I was ABSOLUTELY going to have a baby in the next 24 hours! Of course though, patient and wise Laura just smiled at me, and was also of course totally right as usual. Within minutes of leaving Laura’s office I was beginning to contract. By the time I got home they were timeable and coming at a pattern of four three and two minutes apart, in that order, repeating again two times in the same order before going to a three, two, two pattern, and then a two, two, two pattern. We called Laura, and she said to call her back after I’d had contractions for an hour. I was not in any pain, and I was walking around and smiling and laughing so no one was taking me very seriously yet. I knew that it was time to get moving though. It was 7:30pm at this point. I called my mom and she was in the middle of watching a TV show and said she’d come over after it was over (still no one thought I meant business, obviously) I called her back in less than ten minutes and told her to come sooner. She laughed at me but came over anyway. When she arrived she was still looking at me like I might be kidding since I was showing no signs of contracting even though they were still a steady two minutes apart. AJ was playing his gory shoot em’ up game on the Xbox and we had called the neighbor girls to come watch the older kids, but they hadn’t arrived yet. I called Laura back again and told her we’d be there by 8:30pm.  While we were waiting for the babysitters to show up mom and I decided to go for a walk. We chatted about the baby’s name, the logging project down below the house, the Christmas trees, and all sorts of things. Mom asked me periodically how I was feeling, though I could tell she was wondering why I’d pulled her away from her show when I was not even pausing conversation for contractions. At around 8:25 when the sitters got there and we’d circled back to the house I announced it was time to go to Laura’s. Both AJ and my mom looking a little surprised said okay and loaded things up, Mom scrambling last minute for her camera that she’d misplaced (that’s kind of important!). We got to the birth center first since mom had to stop and get gas and Laura already had the tub full and the jets going. Still feeling perfectly fine and cheerful but feeling the contractions getting closer together I put my swim suit on and hopped in, relishing the idea of the hot water relaxing my back muscles. It was heaven! Laura had it at the perfect temperature and my whole body instantly relaxed…until I had another anxiety attack! Laura wanted to check me and asked me to tell her when I was having a contraction, and I couldn’t! I couldn’t feel them anymore! My eyes got big and Laura laughed at me explaining that the jetted tub took away 30-50% of the discomfort of labor, and since I wasn’t in pain to begin with, it took it all away! My mom leaned in and said something mocking, something along the lines of "this is going to take all night" , to which I replied in a return mock voice saying ‘What, are you mad at me because I’m not having another quick labor?” We both laughed. My labor with Griffin, my previous pregnancy was only about 30 minutes long in the active stage, so we had gotten spoiled. Laura checked me though and said I was at 8 centimeters with just a little lip left to efface. She also said that my water must have broken because there was no barrier in front of the baby. This is when I chose to tempt fate and asked her mockingly if it was ever going to hurt. Ha! You won’t catch me doing that again! Immediately after I said that the contraction from heck with two L's lit into me and took me by storm. My whole body seized up and I clenched my hands and feet. It took me halfway through the contraction to remember to breathe and try to relax. Sometime before the serious contraction hit my mother in law Lela showed up as well and Laura told everyone that baby would probably arrive within an hour. (Take that mom!) That was at 9:26pm. After my first painful contraction was over Laura asked if I’d like to get out and sit on the toilet for a little bit to see if it would relieve some pressure. I did, and it did relieve some pressure, but within seconds another crazy contraction hit and I was rocking and moaning saying "relax, relax, relax" over and over to myself. AJ was sitting on a stool in front of me and kept trying to offer me his hand to squeeze, which I batted away like an annoying fly...I hate to be touched when I'm in pain. Laura came in and asked politely, but with some authority, for me to return to the tub after the contraction was over, she said she’d delivered babies on the toilet before but it wasn’t her favorite. In my head at the time I was confused, thinking, I’m not having this baby anytime soon, what are you worried about? We listened to her anyway though and when AJ and Laura helped me up we saw that there was vernix off of the baby in the toilet. Wow! Maybe we were going to have him soon! After returning to the wonderful soothing waters my relaxation was brief because the mother of all contractions (ha-ha) hit shortly after. Laura checked me again and told me to push, while at the same time pushing the last little lip of my cervix up over the baby’s head. During that same contraction one push and two breaths later Cohen Jesse Isaac was born!!  He had his umbilical cord wrapped loosely around his belly and I untangled him as Laura helped hand him up to me. What a doll! He had a perfect and flawless little head. No smashed ears, crooked nose, or cone shaped head from a long labor- how could it, the labor was only 15 minutes long if that! He was born at 9:32pm- only six minutes after Laura had said there was probably an hour left. What a whirlwind! After I held and admired him for a while and the umbilical cord stopped pulsing, AJ cut the cord (the first one of our children he ever did that with!) and they took him into the adjoining room to weigh and measure him. I thought for sure he was smaller than Griffin since he had a smaller and more petite head and body figure- but he was four ounces heavier at 8 pounds 12 ounces! Griffin was taller by an inch though as Cohen was only 21 inches. I was shocked at how big he was! I had even carried much smaller this pregnancy than I had with Griffin! Goes to show you can't predict anything when it comes to babies. :)

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

    Mayday Mayday!

    Hello! ...and welcome to May!! 
    I can't believe it's already May! My calendar is getting dizzy from flipping pages so fast! So, I feel it is my duty to update my blog, and therefore all of my readers on what's been going on in the lives of the Lines Fam. :) (Lucky you, right?)
                    As many of you know, we are due with baby number five May 4th, and that is THIS Friday!!!! I am so excited, and impatient, and antsy, and...uncomfortable! hahaha Anyone who's had a baby or is currently this far along knows exactly what I mean. Heck, anyone who has had to live with a woman this far along knows what I mean!  Freezer meals are made and stored away, baby's clothes are washed, folded, and stacked neatly on the nursery shelves, and all the birth center bags are packed and waiting in the van alongside  baby's car seat- don't ask me how this has made grocery shopping the last two weeks, or the other four kids that have had to ride the forty five minute drive home from town with gallons of milk in their laps for that matter! I think we are ALL waiting for the tell tale signs of labor to show up! Which isn't easy when you're body is so ready and prepped for having babies having done it many times before that it is almost always in some state of prodromal labor the last four weeks. I keep telling my husband that this would be so much more tolerable if I could just go into hard labor and have the baby, or quit with all of these teasing symptoms so that I could get rest and be pleasantly surprised when I finally went into labor. Ha! The laws of nature say otherwise. Baby needs to be in the right position, milk has to be just on the brink of production and full operation, muscles, tendons, joints need to all be loosened in preparation for delivery, and last but definitely not least when you're calculating biggest discomforts, cervix has to be at it's prime for a smooth delivery. I suppose some women can glide on through this stage of their pregnancy, ignoring all these signs and symptoms knowing they'll recognize the true blue labor contractions when they arrive. Some women I've talked to  have the same onset signs before labor, or deliver (like my sister) exactly one week before their due date each pregnancy. I truly envy these women! I delivered my first baby in four hours two weeks early after an induction due to low fluids, then came my twins four weeks early after multiple stays in the hospital to stop preterm labor previous to that with an eight hour labor that was stopped and restarted in the middle, then my first home birth baby who is currently twenty months old arrived one day overdue after two hours of total labor, but only thirty minutes of active labor! None of these labors or their symptoms had much commonality. The biggest issue with this pregnancy is timing- my husband works forty five minutes away from home, the midwife lives twenty five minutes away from us, and we have four small children to contend with at home. So needless to say we do a lot of praying that baby will choose to arrive in the late evening or middle of the night so that at least my husband can be home to catch!
                With the worry about when baby will choose to arrive, comes connected the overreaction to each little symptom: "Ooo, that was a stronger than normal braxton hick, start timing them!" "My lower back is feeling crampy and I've been more moody than normal, maybe it's the hormonal surge before labor!"
    My poor midwife has probably gotten more irritating phone calls from me in the last two weeks than she's ever gotten from her average soon to be mother of five. Although she's a great sport, and since she was the catcher at my last birth she knows that there isn't room to be too skeptical about me having a baby quickly when it finally happens!
                 Speaking of other babies, I've been doing a little bit of worrying about how Griffin will react to a new baby. This is the closest together we've ever had babies and each previous time the older siblings were more at an age of reason and understanding, and definitely at least out of the crib! Griffin is still very much the babe of the family- still sleeps in his crib, sits in the highchair, takes nice long naps and early bed times, and is just now starting to really do any talking other than saying Mommy and Daddy. We've just now gotten him to start patting my belly and saying "baby", but we do that for our own amusement, he has no clue what's about to happen. The twins were simple when Griffin was born, they were born with company so they didn't feel any displacement! They even handed over their pacifiers to him and never stuck them back in their mouths! I pray that things are that smooth this time around. Griff is our cuddle bean, our little snuggle love, and he is not happy when Mommy or Daddy's laps are even occupied by a book, much less another baby! Usually after we have a new addition to the family I move in to the master bedroom for the first postpartum week to work on getting a good breastfeeding/sleeping pattern going and to bond with the new baby(s). My wonderful husband takes a week off of work and brings me food, drink, and entertainment, and brings the other kids in to say hello to the baby and I for a quick little minute and to receive bedtime hugs, kisses, and prayers, and then scoots them on back out. This time around I think I'll have to have Griffin live in the bedroom with new baby and I for larger parts of the day to avoid major emotional calamity and possible hostility toward the new guy. It's so important to me that Griffin not feel replaced or forgotten, he's such a lover I think I'd be pretty wounded if he shifted his affections elsewhere too.
                 So! This is the end of my family update for today (mostly because I'm ready for a nap before the kids wake up) but you can count on another update soon!! With new baby pictures!! Woohoo, wish us luck!


             


    Monday, March 26, 2012

    Potty training...or...


         Sometimes our need to control our lives and our surroundings makes things get so out of control that we stop to wonder, was there ever any control there to be had? Most of the time, no. At least that's my own experience with the world, after I had kids, amplify that no times ten. My desire to write this blogacle (blog article, tee hee)  was sparked today after reading a link to a little article off of the Cafe Mom webiste that a friend of mine posted to facebook. You can read the article yourself here:
     http://thestir.cafemom.com/toddler/135107/potty_training_is_not_a?fb_ref=post_bottom&fb_source=home_oneline 
       My article is primarily about my son Steven. He just turned four this month, and the only thing consistent about his potty training is that he consistently progresses and then regresses over and over. I have mostly just given up, and let him decide what to do. We just try and make good consequences when he chooses to go in the toilet...or bad consequences when he goes elsewhere. I'd like to say that he is still in diapers, heaven knows that would actually be easier, but he has been out of diapers since he was a little over eighteen months. In fact, I was just looking in his baby memories book the other day and remembered about having to cut the feet out of all his footie pajamas so that we could turn them around backwards, that way he couldn't take them off to get to his poopy diapers. Unfortunately even that didn't stop our little Houdini for long, he figured a way out of the pajamas and got to the diapers anyway, always ending in a "poo-tastrophe". So, we thought maybe he was ready for potty training. Makes sense right? The kid takes off his diaper after it has any poop in it at all and smears it around, so he must want it off his body, and what better place to put it than the toilet!? Uh, wrong. He apparently just really enjoyed smearing poo. We did what lots of parents do, and what we were given plenty of advice to try- worked on introducing him to the toilet by letting him run naked and rewarding him with candies or stickers every time he actually went in the toilet or the training potty. Which worked, kind of. He'd go pee in the toilet quite often (we were pumping him with fluids to try and get lots of positive affirmation in during the day) We tried putting him back in diapers at night, but he'd already gotten the idea in his head that he was a big boy now, so he didn't need them. I just washed lots and lots and LOTS of sheets and pajamas...and carpets, and sofas, and stuffed animals... When we made him wear pull-ups he regressed even further and started to get really destructive with his pooing, smearing it all over windows, toys, furniture, all the clothes in his dresser, down air vents...yes, it is as gross as it sounds. He'd never eat it fortunately, but had no problems whatsoever with touching it. SO, obviously, it was hurting his mental psyche, self worth, or whatever you want to label it that we would dare put him back in diapers or even pull-ups, and since washing some wet sheets was exponentially easier than scrubbing whole rooms, we caved. (Ask me how MY psyche was doing!!)
         After riding this merry-go-round for over a year, he had made some serious progress- he no longer pooped his pants in public, he'd tell you most of the time when he had to go pee in public, mostly I think because he wanted to play in a variety of toilets, and he was no longer wetting the bed at night or nap times as long as you were there the instant his eyes opened to whisk him to the bathroom. As previously mentioned at the beginning of this article, he only consistently progressed as often as he regressed. Every time he was sent to his room for a time out or a mandatory nap, he'd smear poo. Yes, yes I know, this is the part where you say "Ohhh, he's reaching out for control of his own. Give him control of other things and he'd stop that." I really wish it would have been that simple. We read parenting books, and absorbed all the advice we could get. We followed Love and Logic's advice of giving him choices in everything, giving him control over every little thing we could think of. We followed To Train up a child's advice of taking away sugar or some other thing that he loves saying that he needed to quit going potty in his room and we'd give it back. We followed so many other people, and so many other online info sites, and so so many parenting books advice that I think mostly my husband and I wound up dizzy and dazed in the corner...cleaning up poop. We even went so far as to take him to the pediatrician when he turned three and was still doing this to see what we could do. She said that he was ADHD and said we might try some trial variations of medication to help him out. Now, I am majorly against medications, but my oldest son who was in the same year also diagnosed ADHD and had struggled so severely in school that he was not able to function publicly was given some brand new medications, not at all like the scary ones that are stereotyped for ADHD, and he was doing beautifully in school and was a new kid altogether. So, we gave the meds a whorl. Oh dear. THAT only lasted a few weeks before we decided that it was the dumbest thing we'd ever tried. He'd go from manically happy to a puddle of tears in five minute spans. Clearly, this was not the medication for this kiddo. Instead of trying other medications as the pediatrician recommended, we decided that whatever we did would be medication free,  since we were trying to potty train, and not teach math or reading to this kid, we just felt that medication couldn't be justified.
        Onward went our journey- Whew! We started relaxing about the whole thing the longer time marched on. We'd just have him help us clean up when he made horrible messes, and then at mealtimes or treat times say 'Sorry, boys that poop in their rooms and smear it don't get ......' fill in the blank with whatever special treat we were having. Don't get me wrong, I'd definitely still have meltdowns of my own. Day seven in a row of scraping poop off walls and furniture happens and it's bed time and you just discovered another pile hidden under the bed ...with your foot...see if you can keep your cool! He'd cry and I'd cry and he'd say he'd try harder tomorrow (to make Mommy not cry I think, not to make it to the toilet) Anyway, by the time he was three and a half he'd made some more major progressions, like not peeing or pooing his pants or people's potted plants when we were out and about for starters, making it to the toilet 98% of the time during the day at home and during nap times. Mostly he was only still peeing in every bleeding thing in his room during the night and ugly hours of the morning. So, life was dramatically better for us- we just had what we called the "pit of doom" (the boys room) to contend with. I think the biggest thing that made this major progression occur was that we discovered we were expecting another baby so we moved Steven into our oldest son Samuel's room to make room for a nursery- and primarily to see if older brother could play watchman to younger brother. This almost completely stopped the room pooping, which was fantastic, since it took excessive sanding, four coats of paint, two boxes of baking soda, three bleach water moppings, and still about three months of sitting empty with just air fresheners hung sporadically to repair the room Steven was previously in. Samuel complains about the peeing, but he's a great big brother that puts up with a lot and he's pretty awesome about telling us all the time when Steven has peed. Their room smells, but I can at least fix it with a good mopping, soaking the toys in baking soda water, and opening up windows on nice sunny days. It sounds crazy that getting to this point is my definition of living the good life, but delve back into the terror years and you would understand.
         Steven now at four years old still has his regressive moments, peeing his seat in the car the other day for instance, pooping in his underpants and then wiping his hind end with his brothers blanket a week ago, and getting caught peeing out the windows down the screens a time or two just to name a few, but overall he is on the path to success. I still don't consider him "potty trained", but I have learned not to be bothered by that. I think when it comes time to potty train baby brothers Griffin and Cohen I am going to be the worlds most chillax mama. Maybe it was Steven's purpose in life to beat me into submission and give up my stubborn controlling urges on the world. Goodness knows I'd be in a mental institute if I hadn't learned to let go! Now the questions are, what about preschool? How long exactly is it going to take this kid to be really and completely potty trained? I don't know the answer to that, but I do know that as long as he keeps trucking along so will I, and I'm no longer concerned about the answers or other peoples' opinions on the matter. Which brings me to my last fiat: leave the poor potty training mamas alone for pete sakes! This is NOT a competition! I'm sure that after reading my page you can say that you've heard of the worst case, and you can find more articles online in bulk telling the tale of the five minute potty training wonders, all of which should tell you that each child is so different and in need of different time spans to complete the same tasks. This doesn't make them dumb or smart, slow or quick, it makes them human. Have lots of good advice? Fantastic, share it when it's asked for- with humility please, just because you were successful doesn't make you wonder mom, it makes your child wonder kiddo. You really weren't in control no matter how badly you'd like to think so. Okay! Soap box is put away now! :)
         Finally- no matter how many miserable moments he's made for me, this little guy is my love, my hero, my little buggin', and every time I look at his face I know he deserves my patience and endurance. Don't you think so?

    Friday, March 23, 2012

    Spring Decor Mini Tutorials

    Welcome to Spring!

    Today let's do some mini tutorials on how to get your house looking Springy- with stuff you probably already have laying around!

    Tutorial A: Floral boot hanging
    This piece is both fun and sentimental because all of my kiddos have worn these bright red boots. It was perfect too because I already had scads of silk flowers hanging around from other projects, and of course apple tree clippings are in abundance this time of year. 

    Materials:
    • Boots- preferably the kind with loops sewn onto the backs, or double sided pull loops built into the sides (for hanging purposes) 
    • Silk flowers of your choice
    • Springy looking tree clippings
    • Ribbon
    Okay- this is called my spring mini tutorials because these are quick and easy projects! So pay close attention because this one should be the shortest tutorial of them all.
    1. String your ribbon through the loops of the boots wherever they may be, and adjust the length with enough slack to tie a nice bow on top and still retain the length you're looking for. 
    2. Tie a bow, and cut surplus ribbon. Make sure the bow is tight so it doesn't slip loose when you hang the arrangement.
    3. Arrange your silk flowers until it has an aesthetically pleasing appearance to you and then place tree clippings behind in a scattered fashion. 
    4. Hang it up!!!! No really, you're done already. Told you it was simple!  :)
    Tutorial B: Spring hanging sign
     
     This piece is slightly more involved as I did quite a bit of free hand painting on it. However, I think someone who wants the same effect and isn't artistically inclined could get the same outcome by decoupaging printed flowers, or tracing over printed flowers and then painting over that.


    Materials:
    • wood piece- mine is about 10X3 inches, but your can change that up to your fancy
    • Drill & small drill bit (just to make holes big enough to string jewelers wire through)
    • Bendy wire- I bought mine at Walmart in the jewelry crafting section
    • Pencil
    • Printed text (and or flowers according to if you are painting your own flowers like me or tracing some instead) 
    • Fine grit sand paper- unless your wood piece is already smooth enough to your taste
    • Acrylic sealer- OPTIONAL
    • decoupage glue- ONLY IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE DECOUPAGING PRINTED FLOWERS INSTEAD OF PAINTING OR TRACING
    Directions:

    1. Sand your wood piece until smooth enough to be able to trace over and paint and not be too disturbed by excess bumpiness. 
    2.  Drill a hole on both top corners where you want the hanging wire to come out of. 


      

         3. Take your printed text and cut it roughly out- just like in the above pic- so that there's not too much excess paper to work around and then use a sharp pencil to trace the lettering around all the edges. It should look something like this when you're done: 
        4. Add your own flowers/details as you wish at this point to the piece to make it pretty. 
        5. Paint in the text and embellishments. I used acrylic paint for this.
       6. Since I am hanging my sign outdoors I chose to add acrylic sealer to make it a littler more weather resilient. This is an optional step that you can skip if you don't think you'll need it. 
       7. String the wire through the holes leaving a tail on each end for wrapping and making a cute little spring.
       8.  Wrap the tails of the wire around the pencil to create a uniform coil on each side. Then loop the coiled wire around the wire coming out the back of the hole once so that it's got a good attachment and won't come loose when hanging.


        9. Hang it up!!! :) I hung mine above my floral boot arrangement for a sweet little bit of spring emphasis.

    Tutorial C: Felt flower wreath

     Materials:
    • Felt sheets in your desired colors, including felt for leaves if you want them
    • Wreath base of some sort- these felt flowers are hot glued, so you can use anything (including even just a cut out and felt covered ring of cardboard) that hot glue would stick to. 
    • Hot glue gun and plenty of glue sticks- I went through about 8 small glue sticks in my gun making this. 
    • Scissors
    Directions:
    1. Basically all you need to know to make this wreath is how to make felt flowers & leaves- so we'll start with that. 

     
    Flowers

    • Cut your felt sheets into round to semi-round circles according to the sizes of flowers you want to make. I made all different sizes to fill in the wreath nicely. 
    • Start on an edge and cut spirally into the circle creating a little coil. Cut off the last little circlet on the inner part of the circle. 
    • Start on the outer edge of the coil and start rolling for a broader flatter flower, or start rolling from the center of the coil outward for a taller skinnier flower. 
    • Hot glue the tail end back onto the flower roll. 
    You just made a felt flower!! Now the cool part is, you can change these up in almost limitless ways- scallop, fringe, wedge, slice or do what you may to the edges of the coil once it's been cut out to change the overall look of the flower once rolled up. Play with it until you find some designs you love! Or stick with the simple to get the traditional rose look. Then you can use these versatile little things to adorn everything from gift wrapping to little girls headbands!   

    Leaves


    • Cut out rectangles in the sizes and colors desired to make your leaves. 
    • Just cut in a rounded arc from one corner to another on farthest sides of the rectangle, and then repeat, cutting with an opposite angled arc the other direction. Wala! Leaves.


        2. Prep your wreath base. I used a wire wreath base, so mine required hot gluing a ribbon to the bottom so that there was more for the hot glued flowers to cling to. If you're using something else, it might not require that step.
       3. Start making your felt flowers and leaves in bulk and arrange them to your fancy along your wreath! This is all to taste as to how you want your end product to look, so just have some fun! For the best result I recommend gluing down leaves first, then flowers, or tucking and gluing some leaves to the underside of the wreath in addition to under flowers.
    Well, that's all folks! If you have any questions, or if you feel I didn't describe something well enough for you to replicate it, please leave me comments and I'll try to help you in any way I can!