Saturday, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Welcome Baby Girl!

Zoe Anne


9 lbs, 1 oz  //  19.5 inches
Wednesday, December 28th at 1:52 pm

Thank you for all your prayers! The induction, once eventually started, went very well. The labor and delivery (and now recovery) is about the best you could ask for. The kids are super excited to have Miss Zoe home - as well as their mom and dad - and keep asking to hold her.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Boy or Girl?

Back in the fall, I told the kids I would make them some t-shirts to celebrate the baby's birth. I had really wanted to try out freezer paper stenciling (google it and see the amazing projects people come up with). It looks professional, relatively simple to do, and what kid does not like his own personalized shirt? However, time and energy were not on my side so I stuck with your basic fabric paints and came up with their shirts. You will have to wait to see them, though, until after baby arrives. But, here is a sneak peak of the baby's onesie:



Now, I am off, and you will not hear from me until sometime after the baby is born! My parents are arriving today for our little Christmas celebration since we could not travel this year, and then they will help with the kids while my husband and I are in the hospital.

I pray you have a wonderful Christmas season! God bless you!

Visiting Venus

Do you think it would be fun to visit Venus? Mmm, I don't think so! Because of its atmosphere, the sun's heat is trapped, and Venus is hot, hot, hot! In fact, the hottest planet in our solar system! Plus, it is covered with constantly active volcanoes. The few visiting space craft that have dared to land on Venus simply stop working and are left stranded there.

So Venus isn't the best place to put on your travel itinerary, but you can have some fun with Venus at home. Here's what we did to wrap up our Venus chapter from the book, Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright. It's also a good lesson for some hands-on learning about volcanoes in general.

What is lava and how does it work?

Using some cornstarch (flour would be great too), melted butter (with red dye), a small plate and bowl, and you can see how lava works. What is lava? Lava is the melted rock that erupts from a volcano. As it flows and cools, the lava hardens, turning back into rock. Let's see how this works:


Gather your supplies. Place a small custard bowl upside-down on a small plate. Spoon your flour (we used cornstarch) smooth around the edge of the plate to form the "land." Melt a good-sized spoonful of butter with a bit of red food coloring if you need the visual effect (Skipper does). I used a measuring cup for easier pouring with the boys.


Slowly pour the melted butter over your "volcano." The "lava" is hot, runny, and melted. Now, let it sit - for hours, maybe longer, until the butter cools.


You should end up with hardened butter again to show it goes back into solid rock. Ours ended up a little soft, even after sitting out overnight, but I think it was the butter we used (Earth Balance soy/dairy free). But, it still worked well enough for them to see the process in action.

Make your own volcano!

Obviously, this is a classic experiment, but it never fails to be a hit. I cannot tell you how many times we do the whole vinegar/baking soda thing in varying forms, and it always amazes the kids.


Gather your supplies: baking soda, vinegar, dish soap, plastic bottle (a smaller bottle would do better), red food coloring (optional), and measuring cup.


Stir 1 Tbsp. of baking soda with a few drops of food coloring and just enough water to make a thin paste. Carefully pour into the bottle. (I had to pour it.) Add just a drop or two of dish soap. Rinse out the measuring cup and fill it up with 1/4 cup vinegar.


Place the bottle in the sink, and slowly pour the vinegar into the bottle.


Watch the ensuing eruption. Ours was a slow eruption, and just when it seemed to stop, the boys shook the bottle a little and more kept coming! They were thrilled, and even happy to help with clean-up in the sink!

Overall, Venus was a hit! Next we come to our own planet, Earth, but that will have to wait until after the New Year, and some time off for getting to know our newest member.

U.S. States Study: Week 10

Georgia & Florida

Skipper still has another state pair to wrap-up from the second session of his AEP class, and, due to sickness, we missed a week so we have another pair to cover yet. But... It doesn't really matter since this will be my last post on the states for awhile because the baby's coming tomorrow! We will have plenty to catch up on soon enough.

I think Skipper liked "visiting" Florida since we were able to head down that way this past spring, and it brought back a lot of fun memories from that trip. The drive down was certainly memorable. That coincided exactly with the cluster of tornadoes that hit Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee in late April. Our path through that was certainly providential as we ended up driving further than planned. We did have tornado warning sirens going out, but our location was not hit thankfully, but just north and south of us were. It was definitely a memorable night!

Georgia


State postcard, state map, state flag, state bird (brown thrasher), state coin, state flower (Cherokee Rose), picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. (he was born in Atlanta, GA).


Skipper used a mix of the melted crayon art as well as plain old coloring to make up this page since  Georgia is known as the "Peach State."


Additional workbook fun.


Florida



State postcard, state flag, state coin, state flower (orange blossom), state map, state image with state symbols.


State bird (mockingbird) and state art Skipper did in class (using glue and sand to "frame" the state).

Extra workbook fun.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Highlights


Our Christmas Eve "volcano." The boys were up early, we had had a bad week, and so we wrapped up our final hands-on experiment for Venus (more on this later). It was quick and the boys had a blast seeing the slow eruption, and then cleaning up after!


I filled in some waiting time having the kids "paint" these scratch-n-sniff images, using a recent Catholic Icing post as inspiration. Smells wonderful and the kids had a lot of fun!


Finally, cookies were made! And enjoyed:



Finally, Christmas morning has arrived! "Jesus" waits patiently in his crib.




Miss Bear only cared about "baby" and went straight for him. The crib soon found another use:



Some beautiful crystal trees we started on Christmas Eve. These were so cool to make. We will definitely do it again. It is super easy. Make a winter wonderland yourself!


The boys' favorite toy this year: Mario Kart Wii KNEX Building Set Bowser's Castle (which I see is way more on Amazon than I paid for!). Besides using the included racing figures, it has been great fun to "race" these hex bugs nano. By the way, this track is huge - and takes forever to put together, but they love it!


Miss Bear has two favorites: Fisher Price My First Dollhouse and Alex Toys Rub a Dub Dirty Dogs. I really had my heart set on a more grow-into kind of dollhouse but this was the only set that was decently priced and had dolls where you could not remove the clothes. Now that she has it, and loves it, I am glad this is what we ended up buying. We always have the future for something a little more "classic" and not plastic.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!


Moonless darkness stands between.

Past, the Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem star may lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art Holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and always,
Now begin, on Christmas day.



(By Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844-1889.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Date is Set!

I'm not so sure how much of that "!" I feel at the moment, as nerves are surpassing the excitement. But, nerves or no, we have set my induction for this Wednesday, the 28th, at 8:00am, on the Feast of the Holy Innocents.

Here I am, today, at 39 weeks.

Today's appointment went well, and the baby looks great. Well, smooshed as he or she is, anyway! Current estimates put it at 8 lbs, 14 oz, but as we know from experience, it could be much heavier - or smaller, though quite doubtful for my situation. To put it in perspective, Critter was estimated at 40 weeks at 7.5 lbs. He went another week and a day and came out a whopping 10 lbs, 9 oz. Miss Bear measured about 9.5 lbs at 39 weeks. She ended up being a lean 10 lbs, 12 oz.

My doctor did not measure my uterus this time, but without doubt I measure weeks ahead. Last week, at 38 weeks, I measured 41 weeks.

So anyhow, the baby is coming, whether we are ready or not in six days! As I told my husband, it is a little more nerve-wracking for me to schedule because somehow, for me, when labor starts spontaneously, it seems unexpected (though logically I know the baby is coming any day, it just doesn't feel like it will). Whereas scheduling it is so final and makes me a little scared, nervous, excited, jumpy, etc. If that makes any kind of weird sense. But I sure do not feel like having the baby along the highway again, in our brand-new van, and risk having an even larger baby.

Now, the question I have to decide on is having an epidural or not. My doctor asked if I wanted one, and I was completely thrown by the question. But I have time to decide. I only have one reason to have an epidural, and I am not convinced that is reason enough to have one.

Just a little blurb I ran across from the book Winter Song by Madeleine L'Engle and Luci Shaw, reflecting on the reality of the Christ child then and now:

This is no time for a child to be born,
With the Earth betrayed by war and hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out and the sun burns late.
That was no time for a child to be born
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome
Honor and truth were trampled by scorn --
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.
When is the time of love to be born?
The inn is full on planet earth,
Any by a comet the sky is torn --
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Odds & Ends

Is Christmas truly a week away? All of our decorations are finally up - minus the Holy Family and the Wise Men from the Nativity scene. Cookies have yet to baked for Christmas Eve, and presents need wrapped. Still, for some reason, it does not feel like Christmas is nearly here. I feel stuck in Advent, though I have a feeling these last few weeks of pregnancy are not helping! I am in those days of "I am so done with this pregnancy." The baby feels so big (I measured 41 weeks at last week's appointment), my hip is killing me, and so I am in a constant change of position. At least a few things get done because of not sleeping. More on baby later this week since we look forward to an ultrasound on Thursday to make sure baby is doing ok and try to estimate a size (haha, like that is ever accurate!).

Here, my odds and ends of the last few days or so...


Isn't this a cool 3D sticker? Miss Bear was "gifted" with a multitude of stickers after having a blood draw done. We have her enrolled in a celiac disease research study, and she is tested every six months to see if she reacts to gluten, among other things. (She is genetically predisposed to the disease.)


Critter having a fun "M" week last week using M&Ms. Who wouldn't have fun? Here, he is sorting M&Ms by color and then figuring out which color he has the most and least of. Orange won out. I sure wish I had snapped a shot of his chocolate mustache. How that child gets food all around his mouth no matter what he eats I will never know!



A little hands-on with Venus (observing how lava flows and reforms back into solid rock). More hands-on with Venus coming in a future post - hopefully sooner rather than later! Unless the baby comes, and then I will gladly wait until later.


Our cat, Sirius, enjoying a gift bag with the visit of Grandma and Grandpa. He is so much fun to have around on Christmas morning.


Miss Bear was so excited to have Grandma and Grandpa visit (my husband's parents), along with a little bundle of gifts. Her favorite? Little Happy Meal toys from the Puss in Boots movie.


More fun for Sirius with tissue paper and feet to attack.


The boys loving their new I Spy Bingo game. The game is nice because it has two levels of difficulty and Critter can easily play on the easier level (alphabetical order and more about finding pictures than knowing letter sounds, which he is still working on).


My grandma's finished shawl that my mom commissioned me to do after gifting her one last Christmas. It is a super easy knit pattern, but I am the slowest knitter in the world! This shawl was made using Lion Brand Homespun Yarn. I love the colors. The picture makes it hard to see but it reminds me of the sea with its blues, greens, and hints of purple and brown.


Keeping a toddler busy is no easy feat, but this kept Miss Bear occupied. At least, for five minutes anyway! A little scribbling on paper with washable markers and then painting the paper with water. (And she now keeps her clothes on but it is nearly always pajamas!)


And finally, our new washer arrived today! What a boring picture, but I am so happy to have a washer again, to not have to ration towels, and to not have to visit the expensive laundromat again!

I hope your week is passing nicely, and eager anticipation fills you all as we wait for the birth of Jesus.