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Our Favorite Outdoor Summer Activities

It’s summer here in central Texas…and it’s HOT!  But, with four mobile kids, being stuck inside all day, despite the heat, just isn’t an option.  So, today, I thought I’d write about some of my kids’ favorite outdoor summer activities.  Some are childhood classics, some are definitely ‘farm kid’ pastimes, and others will just downright make you cringe!  Keep reading, if you dare! 

1. Playing in the Pool

What kid can resist playing in the pool?  We make occasional trips to the “big pool”…you know, the kind where the water is higher than your ankles.  But here at home, we don’t have anything fancy like that.  We buy a wading pool at the beginning of each summer.  We still haven’t found a way to keep them usable from summer to summer, so we have to get a new one every year.

I spend many an afternoon watching the kids splashing around.  Their splashes keep me just cool enough to stand being outside!  They play all sorts of imaginary games.  Dolphins, whales, “fast fish” (whatever those are), crocodiles, sea turtles, and even the occasional mermaid…my front yard is full of aquatic wildlife when the pool is out.  My husband and I are constantly amazed by the amount of communication skills that go into a single game of make-believe!

Plus, we (and by we, I mean my husband) can give the garden a good watering when it’s time to empty the pool.  Nearly everything – even playtime – has to pull double duty around here!

2. Rope Swing

Sometimes, though, playtime is actually an object’s second duty.  Several months ago, my husband slaughtered a pair of hogs.  I know many who read this may find that horrifying, but that’s just how life out here works.  Meat doesn’t come from your grocer’s freezer…not originally, anyway.  But, I digress…

My husband put a rope up in one of the trees to aid in processing the hogs after they were slaughtered.  The next day, our kids came out and found the rope still hanging from the tree branch.  They didn’t see a hog rope, they saw a fun time!  My kids are weird, remember?  They stand on the side of my old truck, hold onto the rope and jump off, swinging across the yard.

Occasionally, only under proper supervision (they know they’re not allowed unless one of their parents is right next to them), they get to “foot swing”.  They put a foot into the loop in the rope and (usually) their Daddy swings them up, high and fast.  Their ol’ Momma has even tried it a time or two.  It feels like flying…at least until you can’t hold on any longer!

3. Giant Building Logs

The. Best. Christmas. Gift. Ever!

These logs were a collaboration between my dad and my husband.  My husband came up with the idea, and my dad brought them to life.  These are landscaping timbers cut into varying lengths.  Then, Dad drilled holes at even increments along the flat sides of the timbers.  Pipes can then be inserted by the builder through all the layers to make sturdy structures…much like Lincoln logs, but on a much bigger scale.

These logs have built castles, houses, boats, backyard fences, corrals…you name it!  If Bear is missing, you can almost bet that she’ll be outside building something.  The rest of the kids really get into it as well, giving her ideas of new structures to build.

4. Bubbles

What list of outdoor activities would be complete without bubbles?  I usually make our own bubbles at home with a little Dawn, water and sugar…otherwise, we’d go broke buying bubbles all the time!  The kids really enjoy blowing bubbles.  They especially like to chase each other’s bubbles across the yard in hopes of popping them before they fall in the grass or float over the pond.  Occasionally, a bubble will float past a dog who will try to catch it.  Sadly, the dogs never have anything to show in victory, other than a bad taste in their mouth!

5. Catch

I know what you’re thinking when you read that title.  But, you’re probably wrong.  Our Border Collie, Patch likes playing with the kids.  She also likes playing catch.  A lot.  She’s usually the dog that ends up catching bubbles.  But, Patch will try to catch pretty much anything thrown in the air…tennis balls, sticks, dirt, fertilizer (much to my husband’s consternation), and of course, balls of mud.

One of the kids’ favorite variations on this game is throwing small twigs or pebbles into the pond.  Patch will then take a flying leap into the water (what’s not funny about that?) to try to retrieve whatever was thrown in.  If was a stick, she’s usually successful.  However, if it was a pebble. she’ll swim around desperately trying to find it.  Of course, the children think this is quite hilarious.  I wind up with four sets of muddy feet and a dog covered in pond scum.  What joy is mine!

6. Pond Hunts

Our pond starts to dry up in the late spring.  If we’re lucky, we get enough rain during the early summer that our pond doesn’t completely dry out (our first year living here was 2011, and by the end of the summer the pond was bone dry, not even a muddy spot left!).  But, either way, it gets much smaller.  Our children often form a little roaming band and tramp around the pond bed finding interesting critters, or playing some imaginary game.  The game often degenerates into playing mud-ball catch with Patch.

Bear will often bring her nature journal and nature identification guide with her.  She takes great pleasure in finding, drawing, and identifying little creatures and plants that have made their home in the dried-up pond goo!  I’m glad they have fun, and I suppose it’s even a little educational.  But, again, it tends to end in mud-covered shoes, clothes, and dogs!

7. Mud Fight!

Ah, I’ve saved the best for last!  I know this one is likely to make many of you shudder.  But, this is, hands-down, my kids’ favorite game!  They run outside as soon as it stops raining (usually before if there’s no lightening) so they can get to the puddles before they dry up.  As you can tell from the pictures, they get gross!  But, it’s nothing a water hose can’t fix.  I suppose all that fun is ultimately worth the mess!  If you would like some tips on how to deal with kids and mud without losing your sanity, check out this post.


And, because you really can’t get a real feel for this last one from just a picture, here’s a little video clip:

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Post Partum Weight Loss Update: Fitness Program

Ok, so it’s been quite a while since I posted about my post-partum weightloss journey.  I’ve got to be honest…life has been getting in the way!  I actually gained 7 pounds.  Eek!  I went the wrong way!  Though we’re back to school now, we recently took a month-long break from lessons, which means we kinda took a month-long break from any kind of structure that even remotely resembles a routine.  Things have been totally crazy!  Plus, it’s been so insanely hot outside…it’s Texas, and it’s summer…of course it’s hot!  I have lots of excuses, don’t I?

So, here I am, dusting myself off, and getting back on the fitness wagon.  

What’s Next?

I’m going to keep up with my water intake goal, and try to keep on track with that one.  That’s pretty easy, I can do that!

I recently found a fantastic program for homeschooling moms (though I personally think any busy mom could benefit) called “Homeschool Mom Fitness”.  I have only been through one week so far, but, I feel like I finally have some hope for getting fit again!  I’m back down to 229 pounds after my high of 230.  My biggest problem with getting myself in shape has always been this preconceived notion that I have to find a big block of time every day to “work out”.  I just isn’t there.  I’m always doing something.  I flutter from doing dishes to folding laundry to sitting at the kitchen table teaching lessons to…well, you get the picture.

There just isn’t any extra time in our schedule for a big block of half an hour, or even 20 minutes for me to take on my own.  But, this program is different.   Each week, there are 5 sets of 3 exercises to complete each day.  You can complete them all at once, or just take them a set at a time.  The first week, you only have to go 20 seconds per exercise.  That’s 60 seconds 5 times a day…that’s all.  The second week is 30 seconds per exercise.  It increases each week.  Even I can find a single minute here and there throughout my day.  As I become more cognizant of my extra time through the day, I’m pretty sure I’ll be finding time to squeeze in exercise in spots I thought were totally jam-packed.

How to Work In the Work Outs

Consider this…

How often do you find yourself standing in the kitchen, waiting for something to cook?  It takes a few minutes for those pancakes to cook on each side, but not enough that you can leave them and go do something else.  You’re a captive.  But…why not squeeze in a set or two of exercises while you’re there?  You’ve already started your day out right!

Or this…

You’re sitting on the floor with your baby while she has some tummy time.  That’s a great time to do something a little entertaining for her…why not make it some exercise.  My baby thinks it’s hilarious to watch Mommy exercise.  I get a step closer to being a fit mom, and baby grins all at the same time.  Everybody wins!

If you’re homeschooling…

These would make great P.E. exercises to do with your students.  Work in a few with your kiddos.  Now, you’ve covered a class subject, and you’re all better off than you were before!

We’re back to school here in our house, and our routine is back to normal.  I feel like I have even less time to myself with all of our school work to oversee.  But, I am still going strong, finding those few minutes here and there.  It’s only Tuesday, and the hardest part of the week is still to come…we’ve got a swimming day scheduled tomorrow (how’s that to stay in a routine?).  But, for once, I have confidence in my ability to stick with this program.

To learn more about Homeschool Mom Fitness, hop on over and check out their website.  For one low price, you get lifetime access to all of the materials…there is no monthly fee.  So, even if you do fall off the fitness wagon (it happens to us all), you still have access to the materials to get yourself back on track again.  There is a fitness tracker, access to videos to show you the proper form for all the exercises, access to a Facebook group (which I have really enjoyed so far), and more.  The program was created by a homeschool mom and her husband, who happens to be a certified personal trainer, so you know he knows his stuff!  I really hope you’ll drop by, and check out this program.  Join us, and let’s all get back in shape together!

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How to treat insect stings fast!

This weekend, I was reminded of a fantastic little addition to our medicine cabinet when Bear accidentally encountered a couple yellow jackets while fishing with her Daddy. Insect stings hurt!  Especially yellow jackets…but it doesn’t matter what critter did the stinging, they just hurt.  There can sometimes be quite a bit of swelling after one of these encounters as well.  So, how do you take the sting out to make your little ones comfortable again?

I’ve heard several home remedies for insect stings in my life…most of them from my grandmother.  I’ve tried all of these at least once, and for the most part, she has a pretty good track record for knowing things that work…no matter how crazy they sound!  Now, my granddad, on the other hand, he wanted to put kerosene on everything…he even kept some in his medicine cabinet.  I wouldn’t suggest kerosene, but I do have a couple of my grandmother’s suggestions to pass along!


Maalox was my grandmother’s go-to for insect stings…ant stings in particular.  I was terribly susceptible to ant stings when I was young.  If I got one on my toe, my foot would swell so badly that I couldn’t put shoes on within an hour.  I grew out of it for the most part, but they’re still a nuisance!  Grandmother would dab liquid Maalox onto my stings, and, while it didn’t help the excessive swelling too much, it really did help the pain.

Meat Tenderizer

A doctor at my university’s student health center actually suggested meat tenderizer when I was bit by a spider (not an insect, I know) in my dorm room.  I tried it…you actually make a paste to apply by adding water (some folks say to use vinegar instead, but I haven’t tried it that way).  It worked pretty well to take the pain out, but there was still a lot of swelling, and it still turned purple, prompting an after-hours visit to the ER.  Maybe I should have used it with vinegar!


I’ve heard this one from a lot of folks.  It makes sense, really.  It’s not as crazy as meat tenderizer!  Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory medication.  You can crush a tablet, and make it into a paste with a little water…then apply it to the insect sting.  This method works fairly well, but it takes a little while.  It’s definitely not as fast-acting as the next remedy.

Laundry Bluing

Laundry bluing?  What on earth is that???  Fear not, that was my first reaction when my grandmother first suggested it to me.

I took the kids up to visit my parents and grandparents one summer.  Apparently, at a stop along the way, we gained an additional passenger who remained unnoticed until a couple hours later.  Lizard was only about a year and a half old at the time.  She had fallen asleep, but just before we reached our destination, she woke up and started screaming.  I couldn’t figure out what was going on while driving into Dallas rush-hour traffic, so I pulled over, and managed to get her calmed down…though I still couldn’t find the cause.  Well, a couple hours later, at my grandmother’s house, I laid her down on the floor to change her diaper.  There was a huge welt on her leg.  She had been fussy ever since the incident in the car…and now I knew why.  Something had stung her on the leg.  It was big and red and angry!  I made a rather surprised exclamation about it, and my grandmother came to look.  She said, “That’s a bee sting.  I just bought some bluing.”

I looked at her like a cow looking at a new gate.  “Bluing?  Is that what you said?  What’s that?”

“It’s for laundry.”  She stated rather emphatically.


My mom jumped in, “People used to use it a lot to make their whites brighter.”

“Okay…”  I was still waiting for someone to tell me why we were talking about brighter whites in every load instead of my daughter’s giant bee sting.

“Mother used to use it on us when we got stung, but I hadn’t thought about it in years.  It takes the sting out, and all the swelling will be gone by bedtime.  I just bought some last week I just happened to come across.  Let me see if I can find it.”  Grandmother took off for her back bedroom to look for it.

I looked at my mom and shrugged my shoulders, still a bit dubious.  But, I figured I might as well give it a try.

My grandmother returned after a few minutes with a little blue bottle labeled, “Mrs. Stewart’s Liquid Bluing” and a few cotton balls.  She said, “Put a little of the bluing on the cotton, then dab it on the sting.  Make sure you cover the whole thing.  Try to keep her still until it dries, because it will get all over everything and it will stain.”

So, I did as instructed.  I made a big blue painting with that stuff all over Lizard’s leg.  By the time we sat down for dinner, Lizard had stopped fussing.  By the time I changed her next diaper, the swelling was gone.  She still had a big blue splotch…but no swelling.  I used it again the next morning, just to be sure…but I had a hard time telling where the sting had even been.  I was sold.  Grandmother told me to keep the bottle, and I did!

I’ve used it several more times since then…every time someone gets an insect sting.  It has a great track record for bee stings, and for yellow jacket stings…including Bear’s little encounter over the weekend.  She was stung on the leg and on the nose.  At first, she didn’t want me to turn her nose blue, but within minutes of the time I put it on her leg, she said her leg didn’t hurt any more and wanted it on her nose too.  So, Bear had a blue nose Sunday afternoon…and I didn’t hear another complaint about her nose.  By Monday, her nose wasn’t blue anymore, but that yellow jacket sting was gone too.  A blue nose is a small price to pay!

So, next time you or one of your little ones gets an insect sting, give bluing a try.  You may be just as surprised as I was.

Incidentally, while bluing is great for insect stings, you can also grow a fantastic crystal garden with it, I’ve been told.  It’s on the list to try this week! 

How to treat insect stings fast!



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If you’ve read very many of my posts, you know that I struggle to balance all of my responsibilities.  I have a lot of things on my mind every day!  I need to making sure everyone is cared for and has everything they need.  I don’t know how many waking hours I spend every day pouring cups of juice and getting snacks or food for meals.  Then, of course, there’s making sure our house stays in a clean enough condition to be considered livable (I’m setting the bar high, aren’t I?).  As a homeschooling mother, I also have to make sure that the kids’ educational needs are being met.  Let’s not forget nursing a baby.  I can’t get much else done while I’m nursing the baby…though I must admit to a certain amount of screen time while I’m doing that!

There just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to get everything done that needs to be done, much less the things I want to get done…things like playing a board game with the kids, or curling up on the couch to read a stack of books to them, or heading out for a bike ride.  But these things are just as important to the emotional well-being of my children as are their physical needs.  Plus, sometimes I just want to relax without worrying about the things I’m not getting done!

The only way to accomplish all I need to do and all I want to do is to have everybody, from my 8 year old clear down to the 2 year old, pitch in as their able.  All the kids really actually enjoy helping out, most of the time.  But sometimes they get frustrated because I don’t give them enough guidance.  I say, “Clean up the living room.”  But, they don’t know where to start.  A task that seems straightforward to me can be daunting to a six year old.  

We’ve tried all kinds of chore systems, but until recently have met with little success.

The Tools

Enter Zone Cleaning for Kids.  This system is fantastic!  It gives kids, even young kids, the tools they need to really help out.  It walks them through all the steps to get the clutter monster under control day in and day out.

The Zone Cleaning for Kids system contains everything you need to help teach your kids the right way to help you keep your house clean.  When you order, you receive the Clean ‘n’ Flip chore chart, an instructional DVD, basket labels, and even a dry erase marker.  You also receive an e-book containing instructions to make some kid-friendly cleaning solutions.  These are non-toxic and can even save you some money!  Who doesn’t like saving money?

When we received the system, I sat all the kids down around my computer, and we watched the video together that explains how to use Zone Cleaning.  It’s amazing how excited my kids get over watching a simple video.  After it was over, they were excited and ready to get started.  That’s right, I said they were excited…about cleaning!  I’ll take it when I can get it!  Then, we went through the Clean ‘n’ Flip chart.  Bear, my oldest was really excited about being able to check off the steps as she went.  

You can find some sample pages on the Zone Cleaning website


How We Use Zone Cleaning for Kids

There are 4 Zones: Living Room, Kitchen, Bathrooms, and Bedrooms.  There is a space on the chart to fill in the child’s name or names to be responsible for that zone for the day.  I have our kids work in teams of two on each zone.  One of the girls always works with one of the boys.  The girls help keep the boys on task…since the boys are younger, they do tend to get distracted more easily.  I try to switch up who works with who on a daily basis.  I float between the zones to help out and make sure things are getting done properly.  

There is also a space on the chart to fill in the times of day each zone needs to be completed.  I’m not super-specific on the times.  I usually just fill in “morning”, “afternoon”, or “lunch time”…you get the picture.  Sometimes each zone needs to be done more than once a day.  Each zone has 3 time slots you can fill in.

The core of the system is the check-off pages that use pictures to detail how to complete each section.  Even young children can use it, because the pictures show them what to do.  It’s also written with complete instructions for those who can already read.  In each zone, these pages detail step by step how to complete each task.  If your kids need additional help, you can watch the DVD for additional instructions.

There is also a page to fill in extra daily chores for each zone.  This is the page where you can really customize this system to work in your home, with your kids’ ages and abilities.  My kids are still pretty young, so I don’t really use this page much yet.  The core of the system is enough for right now.  But, as they get older, this system can grow with them as I can add to it.  Even with the kids doing just the basics, it takes some of the strain off of me, so that I can tend to other tasks that need to be done as well.

Zone Cleaning
Bear thinks I’m crazy for taking pictures at chore time!

I like the Zone Cleaning for Kids system because I can customize it just for our family…for our kids’ ages and abilities.  As they grow and show new capabilities and talents, I can continue to tweak the system to fit our needs.  Best of all, this system actually teaches skills my kids will need for their entire lives.  As homeschoolers, teaching life skills can often fall by the wayside, but with Zone Cleaning, I have something tangible I can use to help them learn.

If you’d like to try Zone Cleaning for Kids, right now, there is currently a 20% discount for anything offered by Trigger Memory.  This includes Zone Cleaning as well as their fantastic Times Tales program. 

Use Coupon Code PARTNER20 for 20% OFF Times Tales Products Including Zone Cleaning for Kids


Where do they come from?

Socks.  I despise socks!  Socks comprise a major part of the laundry around here, and I can’t really figure out why.  They’re relatively small, and my husband is really the only one who wears them regularly.  You can usually find me wearing a pair of flip flops…rain or shine, hot or cold, it doesn’t really matter to me.  Our children don’t like socks.  The oldest decided several years ago that they made her feet sweat, and said so within earshot of her younger siblings, who, in their quest to be like their big sister, have followed in her bare (but not sweaty!) footsteps.  If you find any of my children walking around with socks inside their shoes, rest assured, there has recently been a knock-down, drag-out fight over the occasion.  I’ve found, in motherhood, that it’s important to pick your battles.  There are circumstances that I will force the children to wear socks…but most of the time it just isn’t worth it.

So, how is it, then, that socks have come to represent such a large portion of the laundry?  Honestly, I have no idea where they all come from.  If you know, please tell me the secret!  Really…it’s driving me crazy (yes, dear husband, I know…it’s too short a trip to waste the gas).

Continue reading “Socks”

Today, I was feeling a little inspired by a real bully to write a little children’s story (rather poorly…come on, I only spent five minutes on it!) in the style of a classic:

So without any further ado, here it is, retold for farm children: Continue reading “The Pasture that Daddy Fenced: A retelling of a children’s classic”

Living with a colicky baby can be an intense emotional experience.  Your baby is crying and crying and crying…and you can’t seem to do anything to make your precious new baby feel better.  You’re worried.  Being a parent wasn’t supposed to be this hard!  Maybe something is wrong with your baby…there must be!  All that crying must be a sign that something is wrong, right?

I’ve been there.  So far, we’ve lived through it once, and now we’re living through it a second time (though not nearly as bad as the first).  That’s my first piece of advice…take heart, you will live through it, even though it may not seem like it right now!  Our first go round was with our oldest child, Bear.  We evaded the dreaded colic with three more babies.  Now, with the fifth, it seems that we must do it again.  

Crying and colic...take heart, you will live through it, even though it may not seem like it right now! Click To Tweet

What is colic?

A very young baby (less than 5 months old) that cries a lot, typically for a few hours at a time, and usually at approximately the same time every day is said to have colic.  Often, they cry like they’re in pain, and pump their legs up and down and pass gas. They arch their backs and pull away from anyone who tries to hold and soothe them.

Sometimes, your doctor can pinpoint a cause, such as reflux, but often, there is nothing apparently wrong with these babies.  Try telling that to a parent who has to endure their precious little baby’s screams all night long without being able to soothe them!  Try telling that to big brothers and sisters whose parents are a wreck from having a baby screaming in their ear all evening.  Colic affects everyone in the family, not just Mom, Dad, and Baby!

Our first experience with colic

When we first brought Bear home from the hospital, she was so tiny and cute and perfect.  I’d had preeclampsia, and had been induced at 37 weeks, so she was definitely on the small side, weighing in at just under 6 pounds.  The very first night at home, she slept 5 hours during the night without waking us up!  I thought, “Well, well, well!  All this talk about never getting any sleep with a newborn is nonsense!  I just gave birth to the best baby ever.  I’ve got this parenting thing down!”

As my dad used to always tell me, “Pride cometh before a fall!”

By the time Bear was 2 months old, she spent most of her waking hours screaming uncontrollably.  I had just gone back to work.  Her preferred time of day to be up and angry was from around 6 every evening until about 3 in the morning.  Every.  Single.  Night.  None of us were getting any sleep.  My job performance tanked (I was sleep deprived, and I desperately wanted time with my baby when she wasn’t screaming).  I wanted to be a good mother, but I couldn’t even make my baby feel better!  I felt like such a failure.  

When I took Bear to the doctor for one of her check-ups, I mentioned that she cried all the time.  He asked several questions about it, then told me she had colic.  He also thought she might have some issues with reflux, since she did spit up quite a bit.  Then, he prescribed some medication for the reflux, and, while sympathetic to my plight, basically told me “good luck” with the colic.  It was just a stage, and it would get better.

Our next door neighbor, who ran an in-home daycare, watched Bear every day.  It was really nice to have someone so close to our home!  She had some great tips for finally getting her to sleep…and they helped some.  I don’t know how I would have dealt with the stress if I hadn’t had a couple more rational heads than my own (my husband’s and my neighbor’s) giving me advice.  

Eventually, Bear did grow out of it.  By the time I left my job to stay at home with her, she was a happy, healthy 6 month old.  We finally had lots of quality time together.  But, boy, were those first few months tough!

More Crying

Our newest little one has gone through a similar stage, though it hasn’t lasted as long, or been as severe as Bear’s case!  When she first came home, Baby cried every night starting at 7pm…just after my husband gets home from work.  Fortunately, she winds down and sleeps well when I put her to bed at around 8:30.  So, at least she can be helped!  It’s still trying to listen to a baby cry for an hour and a half each night.  There are a few things I know this time around that have helped this stage be a little more survivable.

Baby is now just over 3 months old, and does seem to be coming out of it.  We’ve been 2 nights in a row now that she hasn’t cried through dinner.  When you’re living with an infant, you have to take all the small victories when you can! 

So, here we go, here are some tips you can use to help calm a crying baby!

Stay calm!

I know it’s easy to say, and really really hard to do!  Believe me, there have been nights when I’ve walked the floors with one of my babies, and I cry just as much as they do.  If you can keep your cool, though, you’re more likely to pass the mood on to your baby.  If you tense up, so will your baby.  I think one reason Baby’s colicky phase hasn’t lasted as long as Bear’s did is because between my husband and I, one of us was able to stay calm with her crying periods.

If you can’t stay calm, pass the baby to someone who can.

When I would start crying just like the baby, that’s when my husband knew it was time to take over for a little while.  I was with Baby (and all 4 of her big brothers and sisters!) all day long, and my patience was already stretched pretty thin by the time he got home from work every day.  He would often (like, every night) take her outside to walk while I ate dinner with the other children.  By the time we were done, I would be in a better frame of mind to calmly take her and get her settled down to bed.  We have sure missed eating together as a whole family, but it was a necessary (and temporary) sacrifice.  We know that it is just a stage, and that this too shall pass.


Swaddling saved our sanity when we finally figured out (thanks to our neighbor) that Bear liked it.  I knew the nurses in the hospital had done it, but I wasn’t any good at it.  So, when we got home, I just stopped.  It would seem like torture to an adult, but some babies really need that snugness that swaddling provides.  Sometimes, babies fling their arms and legs when they get upset, and they upset themselves even more with this behavior.  They make themselves feel like they’re falling.  Swaddling keeps those arms and legs under control so they can’t cause trouble.

Baby really needed swaddling during her rough time of night for the first month or so, too.  It was the only thing that would calm her down enough to eat and go to sleep each night…until it wasn’t.

Ditch the swaddling

Confused?  First I said swaddle, then I said don’t!  Yes, that’s what I meant to say…babies are confusing.

At some point, a baby will go from requiring a swaddle to detesting it…usually within 24 hours.  Just because it worked last night, doesn’t mean it’s going to work tonight!  They like to keep us on our toes.  

A few weeks ago, Baby’s swaddling switch flipped.  I swaddled her to feed her and put her to bed one night, and she got MAD about it.  Now, mind you, the night before, she couldn’t sleep or calm down from her daily crying fit without it.  After a couple of reminders from my husband about how all of the other kids had done that at some point too, and some protestations from myself that they hadn’t done it as young as she was, I finally gave in and took the swaddle blanket off.  She quit crying, and was perfectly happy to settle down to her pre-bedtime nursing session.  I was concerned that she wouldn’t sleep very long without it, but she continued about her regular nighttime pattern without interruption.  She has been sleeping unswaddled ever since.


Sing a song…any song.  It doesn’t have to be some sweet, pre-planned lullaby you’ve always wanted to sing your baby to sleep with.  Trust me, by the 17th time you’ve sung that song in an hour, you’ll be ready for something new.  When I can’t think of anything, I start singing hymns that I learned long long ago.


Have a little conversation with your baby.  Tell them anything you can think of.  Make sure that you’re using a calm, soothing voice.  Tell them all about the things you can see.  Describe the sky, or the clouds, the grass or the trees.  Tell them all about the family members that are still waiting to meet them, or maybe about how much their grandparents enjoyed meeting them the day they were born.  Read something to your baby.  Your baby likes the sound of your voice!  It’s warm and soothing and familiar.  


Hold your baby close and take a walk.  Gently and quietly take a walk outside.  Combine the walk with a little singing and conversation.  The fresh air and change in temperature and scenery will do you both good.  Plus, you get a little exercise out if it too!  It’s a win-win.

Wear your baby

Get a good, secure carrier that’s designed for small babies and get your baby all snuggled up next to you.  The snugness right next to you is soothing for a baby.  Remember that sometimes your baby may fuss while you’re putting them into the carrier and getting everything settled and secure.  All of mine have hated the process of being put into the carrier.  But, once they get there, they really like being close and the movement.  If they’re having tummy issues, the pressure of your body against their tummy can be really soothing.  Plus, your arms can finally have a break!

Check in with your doctor.

Chances are, there is absolutely wrong.  However, it’s always a good idea to bring up excessive crying with your doctor.  There are a few things that can cause a lot of crying, and if it’s something that the doctor can fix, everyone will feel a whole lot better!








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My, oh my, what a week it has been!  I started off with such high hopes for the week.  But on Tuesday evening, Bear was running a fever at bedtime.  It wasn’t very high, but she has a history with fever.  She has a tendency to spike a fever really fast…so I gave her some medicine (in hopes to avoid the inevitable), and sent her to bed.  I got up and checked on her at around 2 am, and she was fine, still slightly warm, but not burning up.  I went back to bed.  At 4:30, she came to get me up because she couldn’t sleep.  I was going to give her a hug and get her settled back down in bed, but when I hugged her…well, the raging fever had clearly begun!  Then, I took her temperature, it was 103.  I gave her some more medicine, and settled her down on the couch to try to get some sleep.  Patch curled up right beside her, kind of pinning her down.  All of a sudden, she threw the blanket back and tried to get up…nut the dog was in the way.  I asked what she needed as I was throwing the dog off the couch.  Bear didn’t answer, but she hopped up and made a beeline for the bathroom…but she didn’t make it.  Patch had cost her too much time!  Bear threw up…and the sick saga began!  Fortunately, only 2 out of 5 kids seem to have caught this one, though we may not be totally out of the woods yet.

Ah, the joys of motherhood!  It’s glamorous, really. 

All that to say, I didn’t do a great job at keeping up with all my goals this past week.  Life just got in the way.

Goal 1: Drinking Water

I was successful on this goal this week!  I met my goal of 4 water bottle refills every day except Saturday, when I only made it to three.  Not too bad for the week, I suppose.

Goal 2: Play

Well, I didn’t do very well here.  My playmates were sick!  We did ride bikes on Tuesday evening before Bear started feeling sick.  We rode again on Thursday…Bear was on the mend, and Lizard didn’t come down with the bug until Friday.  Lizard was better on Saturday (she never gets sick as bad as everyone else), but it had started raining.  It rained Saturday and Sunday, and most of Monday.  We got out a dance video Monday afternoon and jumped around in the living room for about an hour…it was fun.

Goal 3: Research

I didn’t have much time to myself to read this week.  Between taking care of (and cleaning up after) sick ones, and keeping the cooped up well ones out of trouble, it just didn’t happen.

Goal 4: Records

See Goal 3.  I just didn’t have much extra time.  My mind was being pulled in a hundred different directions, and most days, I just plain forgot!

Goal 5: Planning

I have no excuses here, I just didn’t get it done!

Goal 6: Finish Strong

Well, I guess I started at about the same strength as I finished, even if both were a little weak!  So, do I count that as a success??

My Progress

This Week’s Numbers:

Weight: 225.0


  • Chest – 37.5 inches
  • Bicep – 14.5 inches
  • Thigh – 27 inches
  • Calf – 19 inches
  • Hips – 50.5 inches
  • Waist – 42.5 inches

Last Week’s Numbers:

Weight: 227.8 pounds


  • Chest – 39 inches
  • Bicep – 15.5 inches
  • Thigh – 27.5 inches
  • Calf – 19 inches
  • Hips – 51 inches
  • Waist – 43 inches

Even though I didn’t meet all my goals, all of my stats are still heading in the right direction.  So I guess I can’t be too hard on myself!  I have to say, even more exciting than getting a little smaller is the fact that I am starting to notice a difference in the amount of energy I have during the day.  Its amazing to me how much of a difference drinking so much water makes.  Water doesn’t specifically give me energy…since it’s essentially inert.  However, it gives my body one building block of what it needs to function at its optimum level…even if there are a lot more blocks to go!

Hopefully, this week will go a little more smoothly, and I’ll make even more progress. I'm trying to stay positive, even when life gets in the way! Click To Tweet

My Goals: For Week 4

I think I’m going to try again at last weeks goals.  Maybe I’ll do better this week!  I don’t want to try to add something else to the goals when I didn’t master what I already set.

  1. I’d like to try for at least 4 refills of my handy  24 ounce bottle every day.  I did it twice last week, so I know it can be done!
  2. Try to go at least 5 minutes longer riding bikes with the kids every evening this week.  Some of this goal, of course does depend on Baby’s attitude with her Daddy while I’m gone!
  3. Keep reading up on different healthy weight loss options from the books I checked out.
  4. Keep on recording my meals in my planner.  Find a space to start recording my movement activities.
  5. Start meal planning our breakfasts, lunches, and snacks.  Breakfast around here is kind of a free-for-all, and I need to do better about making sure the kids are all out of bed at the same time so that we can sit at the table and eat a proper breakfast like civilized people!  I let the kids get away with some really unhealthy snacking habits…I think having a plan would help with that.  As for lunch, I’m just tired of fixing 4 different lunches for 5 people.  We have everyone eat the same dinner, why shouldn’t that rule apply at breakfast and lunch, too?
  6. Finish the week strong!  I kind of let everything go lax after my slip ups on Thursday last week.  This week, I want to make sure I do as well on the weekend as I did starting out!

So, hopefully, life will be a little less hectic this week, and I’ll be able to meet more of these goals.

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Think Tank Thursday

Today, I just wanted to write about notebooking, and what a life saver it has been for us in our homeschool!  I was getting increasingly exasperated a couple of years ago with the direction our schooling was going with Bear.  She was (and still is) an incredibly bright child…in fact, that was actually why we didn’t send her to public school in the first place.  She was reading independently before she was five.  I wish I could take credit for that, but I can’t…all I did was teach her the basic sounds, she took off from there faster than our phonics program could keep up!  But I digress.

As is often the case with bright children, she had trouble sometimes applying herself to what I was trying to teach her.  When she was younger, she loved doing workbooks…strange child, I know.  So, I had kind of tried to encourage her by using workbooks early on.  But, as she got past the point of learning the basics, her love for workbooks began to wane…but I was stuck in an educational rut.  Plus, workbooks are so easy…as the teacher, I didn’t really even have to think about it.  We’d just open our workbook, read our lesson, then I’d set Bear free to complete the independent portion of the lesson.

But Bear hated it.  She didn’t jump up and yell, “YAY!” when I said “Time for lessons!” anymore.  Instead I got a groan and “Right now?  Couldn’t we do it later?”  It had become drudgery.  Even worse, Lizard was picking up on Bear’s attitude and adopting it as her own.  Now I had to fight 2 kids every day to get started with school.  Where had that little girl who looked forward to school time gone?

I started looking at different curriculum options.  I needed something that gave me a little structure, so that I could make sure we were covering everything.  Bear needed something that allowed her to use that creative nature she was so blessed with.

Enter notebooking. We can use it with pretty much any subject or curriculum we choose to use. Click To Tweet

Enter notebooking.  We can use it with pretty much any subject or curriculum we choose to use.  We use it most in science and history, but I know some folks use notebooking for pretty much everything.  

Bear reads her assignment for the day.  We have a discussion about it.  The time our discussion takes really varies.  We talk about any words or phrases that she didn’t understand, then I make sure they show up in her vocabulary work for the week!  In history, in particular, we often discuss why it’s important to our lives today.  Why do the things some dead guy did 400 years ago impact our lives after all that time?  We don’t skip our discussion time.  It’s critical for comprehension!

Then, after we’ve discussed what she’s read, I hand her a notebooking sheet.  Sometimes I give her a very specific assignment, but sometimes I leave the assignment very open-ended.  She writes about what she’s learned, and illustrates it in some way.  It’s that simple.  It’s always interesting to see what part of each lesson has really resonated with her each day, too.  She loves that she gets to draw during history, and she really takes pride in her work (both the writing and the drawing).  I love that she’s actually learning her history!  It’s a win-win for us both.  Plus, at the end of every year, we’ll always have something to come back to…a record that reminds us both of what she’s done in the past.

Here’s a free printable for your personal use.  There are 12 different general use notebooking pages in this free pack.  You can use them for any subject you want.  All I ask is that you don’t sell them, or share them.  If you want to share them with someone, send them here to this post to get their copy!  Thanks!

General Notebooking pages

General Notebooking Pages

Do you use notebooking in your homeschool? 

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Think Tank Thursday

Apple and Water

This is the first follow-up to the post Losing Weight Postpartum: Small Steps to Reach My Goals.

How Did I Do This Week?

Well, I’ve done better on some of my goals than others this week!  Just as I suspected.  I’ll break it down.  I posted my first postpartum weight loss post on a Tuesday, so I’ll start on Tuesday.


Goal number 1: Drink more water

Well, I did alright on this one!  I had a goal of filling my water bottle 3 times.  I had to fill it 4 times, and drained it each time!  So, that makes 24 ounces, times 4…I drank 96 ounces of water on Wednesday.  

Goal number 2: Play

We did really well on this one!  I rode my bike with my kiddos tonight.  It wasn’t very far, but, my poor bike is about to give out…even if it didn’t have a 200+ pound woman trying to ride it, I think it might be having issues!  But, for now, it’s working!  If it can hold out until next month, it would be great!  Making big purchases is always better for next month!


Goal number 1: Drink more water

Not bad on this goal again on Wednesday.  I drank another 4 bottles.  That’s 96 ounces again today!

Goal number 2: Play

I rode with the kids again tonight!  I went a little farther than I did last night.  Every day a little more…that’s how it’s supposed to work, right?


Goal number 1: Drink more water

Well…we had to go to town on Thursday.  I didn’t do very well today!  I only made it to 2 refills of my bottle.  I had two large Dr. Peppers, though, instead of water.  They’re so easily accessible!  Oh, if only no restaurant in Texas knew about Dr. Pepper!  I can resist a Coke!  I can resist a Pepsi.  Then, I came home.  My husband didn’t help me get back on track much!  The two of us need to have a sit-down and figure out exactly what I’m doing!

Goal number 2: Play

I went bike riding with the kids again tonight, even though I didn’t feel like it.  It was drizzling, but, Monkey had exacted a promise to ride (after Daddy came home) from me right after we got home from town.  It was raining, but, by golly, I rode bikes!



Goal number 1: Drink more water

Well, I did better than I did on Thursday, but that doesn’t take much, huh?  I made it to 3 refills.  I’m a little disappointed, because the first two days, I went above and beyond my goal and had 4 refills.  Today I only drank 3 refills of my 24 ounce bottle.  But, I did better than I did on Thursday!  So, I gotta keep my eye on the positive 🙂

Goal number 2: Play

I went bike riding with the kids.  They don’t seem likely to forget that I promised them some sort of play every night this week, be it soccer, bikes, or playing in the pool.  I promised that one of the three would happen today, apparently it was bike riding again tonight!


Goal number 1: Drink more water

I made it right to 3 refills of my water bottle again today.  At least I made it to my goal.  Andrew was home…since it was Saturday.  I drank quite a few other drinks besides water.  So I drank a lot of calories, I suppose.  They sure do go down faster that way!

Goal number 2: Play

I didn’t make it bike riding with the kids.  But, Andrew and I played soccer with the kids.  I don’t have any clue how to play soccer.  But, Andrew does, and he coaches the kids.  I just run around and hope not to embarrass myself!  The kids don’t care though.  All that they notice is that Mommy is hanging out with them, and taking time out to play crazy with them!


Goal number 1: Drink more water

I did alright, but not great today…only 2 refills.  We took the kids fishing this morning.  So, I really detest park restrooms, there’s wasps.  I have an irrational fear of wasps…silly, I know.  But, I admit I was drinking pretty slow so that I wouldn’t have to use the waspy restroom while we were there.  Baby was also being pretty fussy, so I had her in the carrier walking around most of the time.

Goal number 2:

Well, we did go to the park for fishing.  I was up and moving around.  But I didn’t get to play much.  Like I said, Baby was being pretty fussy.  So, she claimed most of my attention.  Most everyone else was “fishing” with Andrew.  After we came home, we filled up the wading pool, and we did all splash around and play in it for a couple hours.  We were all really tired when we got through!


Goal number 1: Drink more water

I made my goal today.  Andrew was home for Memorial Day.  It was nice to have some extra family time.

Goal number 2: Play

We spent a lot of time as a family, but it was kind of a lazy day.  The kids did a little splashing around in the pool, but a cold front had dropped the temperature down into the mid 80s, so it was a little chilly for playing in the water.  I think we were all still pretty worn out from our activities yesterday!

Goal Numbers 3 and 4

Goal number 3 was picking up some books at the library to do a little research to think about what kind of changes I want to make.  I did get a couple of books, and I’m still working on reading through them.  So, I’ll count that for the “goal met” column.

Goal number 4 was starting a weight loss journal.  Well, I didn’t start anything separate, but I started keeping notes in my planner of what I ate every day.

My Progress

This Week’s Numbers:

Weight: 227.8


  • Chest –  39 inches
  • Bicep –  15.5 inches
  • Thigh –  27.5 inches
  • Calf –  19 inches
  • Hips –  51 inches
  • Waist –  43 inches

Last Week’s Numbers:

Weight: 228.6 pounds


  • Chest – 40.5 inches
  • Bicep – 16 inches
  • Thigh – 28 inches
  • Calf – 19.5 inches
  • Hips – 51 inches
  • Waist – 45 inches

So, there was a little progress.  I think if I had stuck to my plan just a little tighter, I might have done a little better.  But, I’ll take it for a start.  I lost nearly a pound.  I either lost or at least stayed even with the measuring tape!  

My Goals: Week 2

So, I want to keep going with all of my goals from this week, but with a couple changes.

  1. I’d like to try for at least 4 refills of my handy  24 ounce bottle every day.  I did it twice last week, so I know it can be done!
  2. Try to go at least 5 minutes longer riding bikes with the kids every evening this week.  Some of this goal, of course does depend on Baby’s attitude with her Daddy while I’m gone!
  3. Keep reading up on different healthy weight loss options from the books I checked out.
  4. Keep on recording my meals in my planner.  Find a space to start recording my movement activities.
  5. Start meal planning our breakfasts, lunches, and snacks.  Breakfast around here is kind of a free-for-all, and I need to do better about making sure the kids are all out of bed at the same time so that we can sit at the table and eat a proper breakfast like civilized people!  I let the kids get away with some really unhealthy snacking habits…I think having a plan would help with that.  As for lunch, I’m just tired of fixing 4 different lunches for 5 people.  We have everyone eat the same dinner, why shouldn’t that rule apply at breakfast and lunch, too?
  6. Finish the week strong!  I kind of let everything go lax after my slip ups on Thursday last week.  This week, I want to make sure I do as well on the weekend as I did starting out!

Alright, I think I’ve done everything in this post that I promised to do last week.  I ‘fessed up on how I did with my goals from last week.  I shared my numbers, and I posted my new goals for this coming week.  I’ll check in again next Tuesday and let you know how I did!








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