Monday, July 29, 2013

our week at the lake

Or as the Avery called it: "Let's go to camping!"

My grandparents rent a cabin at the local lake every year, and every year we all schlep all our stuff out there and just hang out for a week.
We have added a few family members in the last few years, but conveniently some of us grandkids live locally now. (Which means no one is forced to sleep on the horrendously uncomfortable P.O.S. couch/futon they count as a sleeping space for two.)

We drove out every day, loading up the car with kids, a puppy, a big jug of drinking water that didn't taste like a lake, semi-clean swimsuits, and extra homemade snacks.

We keep it casual out there. Everybody just basically rolls out of bed and shows up. Wind-whipped hair and the scent of sunscreen abound. As do snacks. And chips. And more snacks.

Sunny afternoons spent on the boat are the best.

I don't know what it is about boating, but it has always put my babies fast asleep  - even on windy days when the water is choppy. It seems they are lulled to sleep almost instantly.

Tubing however, is quite the opposite of relaxing.

There were plenty of things to keep us all busy. And for the kids, that thing was the playground right outside the cabin.

Sights from the week:

motorcycle rides (for the adults, not the toddlers -no matter how much they begged)

hanging out with family
boat driving lessons


afternoon naps

food - homemade ice cream specifically
The 2nd Annual White Trash Golf Outing
{Don't ask...}
A wonderful night out without children
- one that will surely be remembered even when we are all old and grey

and last but not least - 
dirty, filthy children
{I think Avery is high on Oreos...}

It was a fun week, but I am glad it's over.
Children who don't get naps aren't happy people.
And crabby children make for cranky parents.
We have spent the last few days recuperating and being lazy.
And it feels good to have absolutely zero plans.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

mini photo shoot

We haven't ever gotten professional photos of our kids, at least not the typical newborn-3months-6months-etc-etc stuff. 

And the one time we tried family pictures we got all of ZERO pictures that I actually liked. So we haven't wasted any more hard earned money on pictures that feature our children looking like grumpy serial killers.
{I do hope to change that this fall. My plan includes bringing along a family member to jump around like a crazy person behind the photographer and a box of fruit snacks for bribery.}

So this past week Jared grabbed the good camera, I dusted off the curling iron, and we dressed Graham in a cute pair of overalls that Jared wore when he himself was just a wee babe.

We only had about 10 minutes of photo time since a blow-out of green diarrhea ensued, but we got at least one keeper.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Happy 8 months Baby G!

We love you so much, happy boy.

Monday, July 22, 2013

BLT dip

Summer basically equals BLTs in my book.
Or just bacon.
I kinda have a love affair with bacon. It should really be its own food group.
I made this dip for the first time for a last minute 4th of July get together at our house. It takes all of about 5 minutes to make, which makes me love it even more. Plus it is delicious!
BLT Dip:
2 cups (16 oz) sour cream
2 cups mayonnaise
3 green onions
4 - 6 tomatoes  (drained of the seeds and extra liquid - too runny if you don't)
2 lbs bacon (cooked and then crumbled)
      {I used real bacon bits that I heated on the stove to make them extra crunchy)
Mix it all together, saving some onions, bacon, and tomatoes for garnish if you wish.
We served it with crackers, but we have dipped all kinds of veggies in it too.
Anything works as a vessel to get the bacon-y goodness into your mouth!

Here is my proud mixer/helper for the day.
She can sure stir with the best of them!
We took the dip out to the cabin at the lake where my family is congregating for the week. We're all big snackers out there, so it won't last long.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

a cleft on the big screen

With Bailey starting preschool this fall, I have had some random here and there thoughts about her cleft and other kids. It's not something I am actually worried about; it's more that I want to be prepared. And more importantly, I want her to be prepared.

In this age of bullying and pressure to fit in, Bailey has a visible difference from other kids. No matter that it is relatively small and many people don't notice it now - someone is going to. In fact, kids already have.

Just last week I was babysitting two boys: a 9 year-old and a 2 year-old.
(I will be watching the 2 year-old Jace and his new sister Mia when school starts this fall.)
We were playing outside in the backyard, checking out Baxter the bunny. Carter (the 9 year-old) was talking to Bailey and all of the sudden said, "What's with your lip?"
Bailey wasn't quite sure how to respond. She quietly touched her upper lip and didn't say anything. She looked up at me.
I said to Bailey, "Remember? That's your special scar that we talk about."
She smiled and said, "Oh yeah, my scar!"

I was able to explain to Carter that Bailey was born looking different than other babies because her lip just didn't grow together like it was supposed to. He  listened to my explanation, and when I asked if he wanted to see a picture of what she looked like when she was very little, he eagerly said yes. He looked at her pictures, asking appropriate questions about her surgeries and if she could eat from a bottle. 
And he kept repeating "She was one lucky baby."
She was. And so were we. 

She wasn't the baby I'd been picturing for months as she grew in my belly; God had other plans.
Parts of her early life sucked:
NICU time. Pumping. Surgeries. Bottles with so many freakin' parts.
Any there will be more challenges:
Missing teeth. More surgeries. Teasing. Braces.
But even with all of it, I don't really think about her cleft. I don't spend time wishing I could make it go away. I don't worry much about the future surgeries or expense. I don't waste my time on this thing I cannot change. It's part of who she is. And our girl is just perfect the way she is.
I do spend time reading blogs and online boards and websites devoted to clefts with the hope that I can garner some much-needed knowledge on how to best equip Bailey with the confidence and information she needs to live in a world that very much judges us on our looks rather than our hearts.

With that in mind, it saddened me to see that Disney's new movie "The Lone Ranger" gave its main villain (Butch Cavendish) a cleft lip for the purpose of making him seem more evil. This wasn't an actor who already had scar. They purposefully gave him a dental prosthetic which forced his lip into a cleft-like position.

A direct quote from Disney's movie website:
"Cavendish is a ruthless outlaw whose terribly scarred face is a perfect reflection of the bottomless pit that passes for his soul."

The only scar I am really seeing is the one above his lip. Just a cleft scar and a lot of wrinkles. In an interview the actor said that the scar and make-up made it extremely easy to slip into the role of this "soulless villain."

Now, I am not a letter-writer. I don't send letters to my senator or protest things. (I leave that to Jared, who happens to really enjoy a strongly worded letter.) But this did disappoint me. One cleft scar and some wrinkles translates to a soulless outlaw? It just seems a poor way to establish characterization. Wouldn't a scar on his face or eye or cheek have been just as effective to help us make the leap to yep, he is the bad guy ?
Would Disney have used another "disability" or birth defect to build characterization - to show other characters as inferior, stupid, or slow?

And maybe I am being overly sensitive on the issue, but to me it seems simply unnecessary. I think the bad teeth, unwashed hair, and crazy eyes are more than enough to help me figure out which side this character is on, especially since most heroes don't usually appear on screen looking as if they haven't had a bath in years.
I am probably not going to see the movie, most likely because I wasn't ever going to in the first place. And I am not crying any tears over the reported poor ticket sales either.

The decision to use a cleft lip to portray villainy seems in poor taste for Disney - a company whose movies I have loved since early childhood. (Loved me some Little Mermaid!) And speaking of childhood, one out of every 700 babies is born with a cleft, making it one of the most common birth defects.
A lot of little kids watch and love Disney movies, including my own. And while I realize this movie is not aimed toward small children, the intent of using a cleft lip to add to the "evilness" of a character is not helping my innocent 3 year-old. She will be facing enough teasing and perhaps bullying down the road without a major film studio adding to it.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Fair week

This week was the Calhoun County fair.
Yesterday was the last day of events and it included mud volleyball. My cousin Matt and my sisters formed a team which included Jared, Alicia (Matt's girlfriend), and a few friends.
Meet the team:
The Bumpin' Amish
A few fake beards (one real!), a couple aprons, and some stoic faces
and you've got yourself some high-class Amish country folk!
{Best costume winners by the way.}
I was pretty jealous - and no, not just of the hot costumes. I like playing mud volleyball and look forward to being on the team next year, when I don't have a needy 7 month-old.

The team definitely didn't do so hot game-wise, but they sure drank just as well as anyone else.  :)

The rest of the week included a parade, complete with free root beer and creamsicle floats.

We toured the animal barns a few times. The girls took to calling it the zoo. Not really, but whatever floats their boats. Bailey particularly enjoyed the donkeys. (At least I think they are donkeys. Now that I think of it... I am not quite sure!)
On Saturday Jared set up a table for the flea market. The downpour of rain toward the beginning didn't do much for the crowd, plus it was the first year for it. He sold a few things, but not as much as we had hoped. Oh well, better luck next year, maybe?  

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Last night Jared and I were at the city park with the kids and my sister Justy. We were alternating between playing with the girls on the equipment and just relaxing at the picnic tables. From where we were sitting we overheard some scary conversations.

A group of 14 year-olds was sitting behind us - Justy knew their ages from helping coach middle school sports. They began discussing their "numbers" - as in number of sexual partners. One girl was bragging that she was at "seven... no, eight" and the other kids laughed and jokingly said, "Oh yeah, you are a whore!"
Like the thought of a 14 year-old having even one sexual partner is funny - let alone EIGHT!

Then one teen asked another girl a question, and she replied that her personal record was 13 "sexual favors" (in place of the more graphic terminology) in one day. It was implied through the conversation that it was with 13 different boys.
First of all: Yuck.
Second of all: Yuck.
And third of all: This is the kind of shit kids are doing and discussing before even entering high school?!

Even if they were exaggerating or just making it all up, which they very well could have been, it is still disturbing to me that bragging about these kind of exploits is even cool to do.
Is this really the norm now?

This makes me beyond nervous as a parent.
I am betting their parents have NO IDEA what kind of things they are talking about, much less doing! And I am sure quite a few of these teens come from "good" homes.
Homes with parents that check homework and cook family dinners.
Homes with curfews and chores to be completed.
And their well-meaning parents have not a clue.

On the walk home, us three adults were discussing all that we had heard.
Jared's first comment was, "I told you that I am praying we just have nerdy kids."
And I am pretty sure he is spot-on. I would much rather have a band geek or a book worm who feels comfortable in her own skin than a "popular" child who will do whatever it takes to fit in.

As a parent I want to shield my babies from all this, keep them innocent until they are actually mature enough. But I know that isn't possible, so it's up to us to establish in them a sense of self-worth and morals. I don't want my child (in middle school no less!) thinking any part of the above conversations is cool.

My main goal is to be approachable.
And while I want to instill values and independence in my children so that they can eventually make the right decisions on their own, I also want them to feel like they can talk to me about anything - even the hard or downright uncomfortable stuff.
I am reminded of a quote I saw a while back that has stuck with me.

I am guilty of this - of not listening.
Just as I am sure all parents are.
How many times in a day can I hear the same made-up story about Barney driving to our house in Papa's tractor? (Am I right?!)

But it is the point that as they grow, it's important for us to listen to the little stuff. To really hear them talk about the fight they had with their best friends because they didn't invite them over to play. To really listen to them excitedly tell us about their latest art project. If we won't even listen to these things, I doubt they are going to trust us with the biggies: sex... drugs...(And rock-n-roll...?  Corny but I had to.)

And I am sure the hardest part is starting the conversation or knowing how to. After the incident yesterday I remembered that our pediatrician's office in Omaha handed out information starting at the 2 year-old well check. It was a print-out from a website devoted to helping parents talk to their kids about sex. It had a lot of good information and kept it really easy and basic.
It starts at age 3 and goes all the way up. And I am sure it is only going to get more uncomfortable as the years go by, but if having honest discussions with my kids keeps them from being one of those teens bragging about her "daily record," then I have absolutely no problem with it.
Plus with 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys being sexually abused in childhood, it is extremely important to me that my kids not be one of those statistics. Arming our kids with basic knowledge can go a long way in helping them protect themselves.
And if worse comes to worst, I have no shame in whipping out the nasty real-life STD pictures as a teenager scare tactic. Totally not kidding.  Who's with me??!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

re-com-mit-ting: to commit again

A few months back I committed myself to working out and eating healthier. (First post here) I worked out five or six days a week. I did so-so at cutting out bad foods. But I stuck with it for a full month and lost a few pounds.
Then I had knee surgery.
So I stopped doing the workouts I had begun to actually enjoy. And that damn knee hurt for at least 6 weeks if I did anything more than walk at a steady pace. In fact, it hurt up until a few weeks ago. I know that I should have been doing upper body workouts in the meantime, but that didn't happen.
I essentially fell off the weight loss wagon.

Just a few weeks ago I was flipping through a magazine and saw a feature about different ways people lost weight and got healthy. Usually I avoid these segments like the plague because these women's start weights are more like my goal weight. But one of the women got healthy while breastfeeding which peaked my attention. And she did it using a modified South Beach diet.

I have always lumped South Beach in with Atkins. To me, it doesn't seem healthy to cut out all kinds of foods to drop a large amount of weight quickly. That was my main issue when Jared did Atkins: you can eat all the bacon and cheese you want but you can't eat a carrot??
So I did a little research about the differences. To me it seems South Beach focuses on lean meats and healthier eating in general. Yes, they both have beginning phases where more foods are restricted, but overall South Beach seemed more appealing.

But as a breastfeeding mama, I needed to modify the diet and start with Phase 2. Phase 2 allows two (or more) servings of whole wheat carbs a day as well as healthy yogurts and cheeses. I can eat any fruit or vegetable I like, with the exception of corn and potatoes.  And because of the breastfeeding, I can drink three servings of milk every day.
There is honestly no way I would have considered this "diet" without the milk. I simply cannot give it up. And milk substitutes are no where near acceptable in my book.
I also aim to drink 80 to 100 ounces of water every day along with my three cups of milk.

And I use the term "diet" very loosely. I don't feel like it is a diet really. I still get to eat normal, healthy meals - I just substitute in healthier alternatives like whole wheat tortillas and pasta. And by following the rules of the diet, I keep myself away from the slippery slope that is sweets... I can't have just one of something. I love chocolate and cake and candy. A couple M&Ms turns into a handful, which turns into a handful more than once a day!

Along with changing my eating, I have been exercising again. I am not trying to do a strenuous workout every day.
I know that isn't practical.
I have been aiming for three or four times a week for at least 20 minutes. I find that I like videos that incorporate High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. It gets my heart rate up and gets me moving, but doesn't tire the same area of the body over and over. You work one area hard for a short interval and then you switch. It also involves weights so that you're toning more muscles and burning more calories than you would doing just the exercise alone.

I have also been trying to do other normal exercise, like walks pushing the stroller or mowing the lawn. I have never loved to mow, but it is a great way to get out of the house and away from my children for a good hour. And Jared can't complain because I am actually helping take something off his plate.
(Little does he know I am looking forward to it!) 
It is sad that mowing the lawn is something of a break, but it's one of the only opportunities I have to truly zone out and jam to some tunes.

I have been doing this for almost two weeks now. Between the diet and working out (and switching to a non-hormonal form of birth control), I have lost between 7 and 8 pounds.
That puts me just 11 pounds away from my pre-Bailey baby weight.
With weight loss milk supply can suffer, so I have been very cautious, but it appears to be unaffected.
I am happy with the progress so far and the fact that I feel like I am eating healthier, not just "going on a diet." I know I will have times when I want to splurge - just like I did on the 4th of July - and that is okay. It's about getting healthier, not restricting myself.

But the worst part about weight loss:
I am pretty sure I have lost it all from my boobs.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

a lazy Sunday morning

My view at 9:30 this morning...

 a lion-sized yawn.

Barney just wasn't cutting it.

thumb in the mouth, butt in the air.
Remind me, why did we all need to wake up at 6 this morning?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


A big thanks to the Today Show. If it wasn't for you, I might never have had a name for my disorder:
Bitchy Resting Face.

The video clearly describes my cross to bear as someone suffering from BRF. I can look bitchy no matter what I am doing: reading the paper, watching tv, mowing the lawn, doing the dishes... {Although those last few might deserve a little BRF action.}

No, I am not upset.
I'm not angry at anyone.
Stop asking if something is wrong.
I just have Bitchy Resting Face, okay?!

After showing the BRF video to Jared, he suggested I make a video of BRF's cousins - my specialties: slow bitch blink and slow bitch breath.
And then I promptly did both in response. Unintentionally I swear!

Hmmm... maybe I actually suffer from BPS. Bitchy Person Syndrome....
I kid... I kid...

I swear I am a nice enough person.
(Because high school doesn't count.)

So if you come across me walking down the street or in the supermarket line, I am not a bitch.
It's just my BRF.
Unless you are in front of me paying with four different credit cards after spending 10 minutes arguing over a coupon for a can of beans - then this bitchy look is definitely a special one just for you.