Turning NINE!

Nine years ago (on Nov. 25) I was sitting in a hospital with my parents, my sister’s in laws, and my grandma, all of us waiting to hear that she was here! It was Thanksgiving day, and there was NOTHING open except 1 random donut shop to offer us any kind of food. Even the hospital cafeteria was closed! About 2 hours before she was born, my mom and I got to go into the delivery room and be present during the 2 hours of pushing, and the final arrival of our precious Sophia Ruth! She was so beautiful! I cried, my mom cried, we jumped for joy and well, it was just such a blessed time. I was so honored and excited to be present for her birth, and the only other births that have topped it have been those of my own children. After we snapped lots of photos we looked outside to see snow falling for the first time too! What a wonderful Thanksgiving! And now, my beautiful niece is nine years old. How did this happen????? Well, it did happen, and she’s nine.

We celebrated over this past weekend, which was a lot of fun! All 7 cousins got to be together. All the celebrating happened at my parents’ so the kids and I left early in the morning so David could have a quiet house to write! My BIL and mom watched all SEVEN kids while my sister and I went out for brunch and much-needed sister/adult/no children/quiet time! 🙂 We partied in the afternoon after my dad, Gma, David and my BIL’s mom and Gma joined us. It was a good time, and we all parted ways tired but in good spirits! HAPPY BIRTHDAY SOPHIA! I can’t believe you’re NINE!!!! I love you so much!!!

The kids watching a video after playing hard in the snow!

The kids watching a video after playing hard in the snow!

Cora helping Aunt Ruthie whip the frosting for the cake...

Cora helping Aunt Ruthie whip the frosting for the cake…

Miss Haddie! I love her EYES!!!

Miss Haddie! I love her EYES!!!

Bekah Boo!

Bekah Boo!

My handsome boy!

My handsome boy!

My sister...still trying to get the icing to whip...took forever, she ended up scrapping the 1st batch and trying again, which was successful!

My sister…still trying to get the icing to whip…took forever, she ended up scrapping the 1st batch and trying again, which was successful!

Riley! He's so much fun and Cora's bestest friend!

Riley! He’s so much fun and Cora’s bestest friend!

Sophia's 9!!

Sophia’s 9!!

Cutie Patootie, Micah! He is now sitting up, crawling and eating "real" food! Can't believe that either...wasn't he just BORN???

Cutie Patootie, Micah! He is now sitting up, crawling and eating “real” food! Can’t believe that either…wasn’t he just BORN???

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Mr. Ornery Pants

I love my son. I love being a mom to a son. I love that we have a son. But, wow! I was not prepared for the orneriness that can come from ONE child, namely my SON! Ben is our comedian. He LOVES to make people laugh. He’s almost 2 1/2 and is definitely in the toddler stage. He KNOWS what he wants and don’t even THINK about telling him otherwise! He’s a hoot, to be sure, but man is he ornery!!! The other day was especially bad. At home he rinsed his toothbrush off in the toilet and was SO PROUD of himself! He purposely took things from Cora, hiding them from her and tried to make it a game. He was the only one having fun…We went to the chiropractor where he dumped the trash can, kept messing with the table’s pedals and hit his baby sister in the head with a piece of equipment (she was fine!). He hit me when I told him “no”, slammed the exam room door shut, kept having the water of the water cooler go in the SMALL drain tray…I about had it. This is not to mention all the screaming, yelling, running around and just all-around NOISE that came (comes) from him. By the end of the day I was tired. I was tired of saying, “No Ben! No Benjamin! Benjamin Monroe, Mommy said NOOOOOOOOO!” Sigh. But, at the end of the day when he grinned his ornery little grin (which I have a feeling is going to melt many a girl’s heart) and wrapped his chubby arms around my neck I couldn’t help but laugh and be thankful for this little man who is definitely Mr. Ornery Pants!

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Going to Preschool

Cora is part of a co-op preschool. This means the parents are responsible to help out in the classroom 1 day a month. This helps keep costs down. We provide snacks/drink on our day, help provide other products the school needs, etc. We have really enjoyed it, and Cora LOVES going to school! She only goes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:30-12, and it’s a LOOOOOONG wait until Monday again! I love watching her excitement and her love of learning. Last week it was our turn to help again. When the parent (me) helps for the day your child is also a helper. The child gets to be line leader, do little errands/jobs for the teachers, help with the calendar and weather and gets to help set up/clean up snack. Cora, as the rest of the kids do, LOVES being helper! Anyway, I took my camera in last week to take photos. Cora also had the Special Box (show-and-tell), and I wanted to get photos of that. It was a fun day! I love being a part of the preschool and seeing my child in action as she interacts with other kids her age!

The kids do a lot of playing. There is very little structured academic time, which I really like. They're allowed to be kids and have fun and learn through playing! Play-doh is very popular!

The kids do a lot of playing. There is very little structured academic time, which I really like. They’re allowed to be kids, have fun and learn through playing! Play-doh is very popular!

This is the craft table and where her class gathers for their "good morning" & sharing time.

This is the craft table and where her class gathers for their “good morning” & sharing time.

Pointing out that it's Monday!

Pointing out that it’s Monday!

Talking about the pink painted seashell that her good friend, K, gave her.

Talking about the pink painted seashell that her good friend, K, gave her.

Snack! We made "turkeys" out of pretzels, Hershey Kisses and candy corn. They were a huge hit!

Snack! We made “turkeys” out of pretzels, Hershey Kisses and candy corn. They were a huge hit!

2 Years and Still Pressing On

While on vacation we hit the 2 year mark of us changing the way we eat, the way we look at food, the way we grocery shop, and the way we pretty much do life. It’s been quite a crazy 2 years. We’ve learned so much about ourselves, about our weaknesses, and what foods are most difficult to give up (dairy and chocolate!). We’ve learned how cheating just isn’t worth it and sticking to a mostly paleo diet is simply what works best for our family. We feel healthiest and best when we eat meat, fruits and veggies and keep the other stuff (starches–potatoes, bread, grains of any kind–sweets, pop) to a minimum, or in my case not at all on the grains. I did a long post last year about all the changes we had made in our first year. You can look at that list here. We have continued with these changes and have added a few others.

One of the biggest things we’ve started doing is seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis. I wrote about that here. I know it’s helping to keep us healthy, and I’m looking forward to seeing how much healthier our winter will be. For Cora, who always gets sinus infections during the fall/winter, she’s been getting sinus massages the past few times we’ve gone. We see the effects (eyes and nose running) of the massage as it’s happening. This is helping to keep her sinuses clear, and the thought is this will prevent infections. She’s already had 1 sinus infection (before we started doing the massages), and I’m praying it’ll be the only one. 

I have been doing a lot more baking using almond meal, coconut flour and garbanzo bean flour. So far the things I’ve made have been good and are things David says he doesn’t mind eating! One thing I probably make the most often are biscuits. We all like them and though they’re made with almond meal and not wheat flour David says they remind him most of the biscuits his grandmother used to make. I have lots more recipes to try, but so far I’m having fun learning to bake differently and learning the different qualities of the different meals/flours. 

Something we have discovered is we are a family who is trying to become as natural and chemical-free as possible. This means I am cleaning exclusively with a tea tree oil/water mixture, baking soda and vinegar. I clean our fruits/veggies in vinegar and water and make our laundry detergent. We don’t burn scented candles or use air fresheners of any kind. This has helped our allergies and the biggest improvement is David’s asthma, which is pretty much non-existant now! I am beginning the long process of researching the things to avoid in hair care products and make up. Changing these things in our home is the next big thing I need to do. We’ve come so far in our attempts to live a healthier life, and this is one area that has seemed very overwhelming to me. However, I (we) believe it’s the next step. We have the food pretty much figured out, and the cleaning products. Now, we need to finish with our own personal care products. 

We are also going to be adding regular exercise to our routine. Now that I’m entering my 3rd year of the best health I’ve ever been in there is no excuse to NOT exercise! I hate to do it, but I know it needs to be done. 

What have we learned thus far? Change is hard. Change takes time. Change can often be a daily struggle. Change is good. There are a lot of benefits to change despite the difficulty in it. And, most change is absolutely worth it! What is 1 thing you can change in your daily life TODAY to put yourself on the road to better health? I encourage you to do it! If you make just 1 change a week, or month, you’ll be further ahead than the person not making any changes at all. 

The Sites of Fall

I love Cora. She’s such a hoot. She and I are moving into a new and different kind of relationship. She loves to do everything I do, and because she’s getting older I’m finding we can have actual conversations. She’s also getting more proficient at doing things and requires less instruction. Anyway, I’m enjoying this new stage in our relationship. The other day, during rest time, I decided to go outside and take some photos of the trees outside our home and our neighbor’s home. The colors have been so brilliant this fall, and I wanted to capture them before all the leaves fell off! I asked Cora if she wanted to go with me, and she enthusiastically said, “YES!” I go out with my camera, she with my iPhone, and we snap photos together. It was a lot of fun. I had to laugh at one point because she says to me, VERY despondently, “Mom, I sure wish I had a REAL camera. I guess I’ll just take pictures using your iPhone while you use your real camera.” Hmmm, guess we need to look at getting this girl a REAL camera! Here are some of the things we captured!

Mums from my Mum! :)

Mums from my Mum! 🙂

I love looking up into fall trees!

I love looking up into fall trees!

"Mom! Take a picture of me with the tree!" She says as she runs across the yard. :)

“Mom! Take a picture of me with the tree!” She says as she runs across the yard. 🙂

I liked the red against the yellow-orange

I liked the red against the yellow-orange

Tree outside our house--photo courtesy of Cora

Tree outside our house–photo courtesy of Cora

"Mom! Hug the tree so I can take a picture of you!" --photo courtesy of Cora

“Mom! Hug the tree so I can take a picture of you!” –photo courtesy of Cora

I love the contrast of red and black--photo courtesy of Cora

I love the contrast of red and black–photo courtesy of Cora

Other neighbor's tree--photo courtesy of Cora

Other neighbor’s tree–photo courtesy of Cora

The mums--photo courtesy of Cora

The mums–photo courtesy of Cora

Smells of Fall

I would be lying if I said summer wasn’t my most favorite season of the whole year. I love it! I like to be hot (hate being cold!), and I like all the activities of summer–being outside, swimming, getting ice cream (OK, in all reality I get ice cream even with feet of snow on the ground!), etc! However, we are currently in the season of fall. I would say I enjoy fall (and also dread it because that means winter is on the way…). I love the beauty of the trees changing colors (and haven’t the colors been stunning this year?!), the smell of leaves burning, the ability to drink hot chocolate without sweating, and a new wardrobe! One of the things I also love about fall is all of the smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin, etc. Those smells just go with this time of year, dontcha think?

As I’m writing this blog post, our home currently smells heavenly! I try to make applesauce every year in the fall (last year I did not as I was puking my guts out being pregnant with Rebekah!). I have not had great success with apple peelers, and so it takes me forever to peel all those apples! This year I decided I was not going to peel them, and I was going to chop the apples as I often see it being done on cooking shows–basically getting the core out with four cuts around the middle, making the core a square. I then cut the quarters into smaller chunks. It went really well, and my dutch oven filled up in no time (8 lbs of apples!!!). I added about 3/4 cup of sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg! YUM!!!!!! It smells so good. I’m just letting it sit on the stove top and do it’s thing. It’s bubbling along happily and every now and then I stir it, and then I mash it down with my potato masher. Yes, I like my applesauce chunky so I’m not going to be sending it through a sieve or anything like that! I can’t wait to eat it! I also love it best when it’s still warm. What’s your favorite smell(s) of fall? What’s your favorite thing to make this time of year?

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Fun at the Zoo

My mom has been wanting to take us to the zoo all summer, then that lead to fall, and it’s almost winter, and we finally went! You know, life just happens sometimes and things you want to happen don’t. In any case, we all went to the zoo yesterday! It’s a good zoo, on a smaller scale and perfect for small kids. We almost didn’t go because “they” were calling for rain, but we took a gamble and went. I’m so glad we did! The weather was warm (especially for October!), it was cloudy, which I actually think was good. The animals were out and active, and the kids were good and had a lot of fun! Plus, it was great to spend some time with my mom! We had a great time, and it was fun making more memories with and for the kids!

Our very own penguins!

Our very own penguins!

What is your wingspan? This was at the condor exhibit.

What is your wingspan? This was at the condor exhibit.

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The carousal ride was OK. Cora loved it, I got dizzy and Ben cried unless I was holding him! :)

The carousal ride was OK. Cora loved it, I got dizzy and Ben cried unless I was holding him! 🙂

I love how my mom love her grandkids!

I love how my mom loves her grandkids!

This was the coolest thing! There was a clear tube slide that went under the otter exhibit. You could see the otters playing as you slid down! It was so fun!!!

This was the coolest thing! There was a clear tube slide that went under the otter exhibit. You could see the otters playing as you slid down! It was so fun!!!

Hiding out in a tee-pee!

Hiding out in a tee-pee!

Just give a boy a shovel and some pebbles.

Just give a boy a shovel and some pebbles.

Our cutie!

Our cutie!

I love this girl so much!

I love this girl so much!

Mimi and Cora feeding the very aggressive goats!

Mimi and Cora feeding the very aggressive goats!

We thought this red bush was so pretty! The kids semi cooperated to get a photo with Mimi...

We thought this red bush was so pretty! The kids semi cooperated to get a photo with Mimi…

The cooperation evaporated when it was time to get a photo with me! :)

The cooperation evaporated when it was time to get a photo with me! 🙂

The girls on a giant caterpillar! Ben was being uncooperative...

The girls on a giant caterpillar! Ben was being uncooperative…