Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Picture Books and The Great American West

For our road trip from Idaho to Minnesota, I picked up a handful of picture books from the library in hopes that they would connect M with some of the places we visited. 

Mountain Dance
Thomas Locker

This one was probably his favorite.  Mostly because it had pictures of hot lava.  Even though we didn't see any lava on our trip, we did talk a lot about the Yellowstone caldera and the volcanic explosions there.  I think now we just have to take him to Hawaii so we can really blow his mind with REAL hot lava!  Field trip!!

I am a huge fan of Thomas Locker's books because I love the illustrations.  So I'd recommend this one even if you aren't headed to the mountains anytime soon.

The Camping Trip that Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir and our National Parks
Barbara Rosenstock

I had not heard this story before and M found it mildly interesting.  Not as interesting as hot lava, unfortunately, but I liked it!  

Welcome to Yellowstone National Park
Teri Temple

I didn't read this with him on our drive, but I overheard Papa reading it to M before we left on our trip.  It's not a picture book, and was probably too long/advanced for him, but it sounded like it had a lot of interesting information.

 Tony Johnston

We borrowed this one, but never had a chance to actually read it together. I want to try it again with him here at home.

Hello, Yellowstone!
At Yellowstone, we bought this board book and really like it.  It's cute and goes through all of the places we visited, as well as others that we didn't get to see (this time).  This was a great souvenir from the trip.

Has anyone read Hello, America?  Please share your recommendations for other kids books about the National Parks - we'd love to plan another trip for next summer!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Weekend Scenes

Who me?  Climb up here?  Never!

Yogurt Bread

Leaf wrestling/snuggling

Finally cutting that summer hair - with a little help from Mr. Rogers

M picked these for me from our yard.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Reading in September

Happy October!  I'm on a mission to read more, so I'm going to try to track my reads every month here.  I'd love to hear what you're reading too and what you recommend!

A History of Western Music
I picked up this book because it was mentioned in the most fascinating Runner's World article about Mirna Valerio.  I love reading about real life runners and she has such an interesting story.  Since our household is becoming so music-oriented, I thought this book would be interesting.  It's really a textbook, and I have never studied music theory or music history so there was way more in it than I could read right now, but I did enjoy reading as much of it as I could (about half-way by the end of the month).

Strong Mothers, Strong Sons
Meg Meeker, M.D.
I really liked The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers and I liked this one too.  I don't think most of it applies to our family life right now (because the boys are so young), but I'm still glad I read it now so that I can refer back to it in the future.  I definitely recommend this to ANY boymom!

The Essential Montessori
Elizabeth G. Hainstock
This was a quick and easy introduction to Montessori.  I've been curious about Montessori for a while, and this book gives a kind of '30,000 feet' broad overview, with highlights from Montessori's own writings.  There wasn't much too it and I basically skimmed it in one evening, so I didn't get a ton out of it. 

The Boston Girl
Anita Diamant
What a great read.  I picked this up after seeing it on Alicia's list here.  I read The Red Tent years ago but hadn't thought about this author in quite a while.  I really enjoyed this book - it reminded me of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which is my all-time favorite book.  This was a great 'fiction break' for me in the middle of my stack of non-fiction books.  I also love the cover image and think I need a copy of it on my desk, haha!

Better Than Before
Gretchen Rubin
I am really enjoying this book.  I haven't read her other books (about cultivating happiness) but she has a great, conversational writing style.  I just started this one at the end of the month, so I'll pop back in with more on it when I finish it.

Tell me what you are reading!  I have The Fringe Hours and cannot renew it because someone is waiting on it, so I am storming through it now.  What should I read after that?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

An Adoption Hospital Bag

Both of our boys were born in different towns from ours.  In either case, we really didn't know what to expect when we showed up at the hospital. We didn't know if we would be able to stay with either boy, given a room or if they would just have to hang out in the nursery until discharge.  I thought I would share my packing list in case you are expecting a domestic infant adoption and wondering what to bring!

This is what we brought, and what we did/did not use in our most recent adoption:

A bag for my husband and me
  A pair of PJs (neither of us wore these - we basically wore the same outfit the whole time we were at the hospital (approximately 1.5 days, I think!)
  2 extra outfits - I did change into clean clothes the morning after baby J was born.  The hospital had given us a private room to "room in" with him in the labor/delivery ward.  But I didn't use the shower in the room- that seemed a little weird for me to do!
  Camera, phone and battery chargers - Don't forget your chargers!
  A gift for our son's mother.
  We both brought a book/work to do while we waited for baby to be born.  I don't think I looked at a single page, but before M was born, D sat in the hallway and took a quiz for his MBA program!

The diaper bag for the baby
  1/2 of a small package of newborn-sized diapers - you never know what the hospital will provide or send you home with.
  4 outfits (2 piece style, with hats) - Baby J wore just a diaper and tops and was swaddled in the hospital blankets until discharge.  Then we dressed him in his sweet little "going home" outfit.
  4 pairs of socks
  2 of the smallest-sized bottles (before we left our house, I added 3 more to end up taking 5) - We didn't use these in the hospital because the nurses gave us those "ready-to-use" disposable ones, which are wonderful and I wish I had a million of those to use the whole first month!!
  1 package of newborn formula (we used Enfamil newborn first) - didn't use until we got home - by the way, my neighbor just told me that Target's formula is also made by Enfamil, has anyone else heard that?
  A pacifier - started using on the drive home, I think!
  A pair of baby mittens - but we didn't use these
  A warm snuggly to wear over his clothes - a must for winter babies, but we didn't use ours since it was unseasonably warm when we took J home. 
  A warm, soft jacket
  2 swaddles - didn't end up using these in the hospital because we swaddled him in the hospital blankets.

I totally forgot burp clothes and really could have used them!  We had some barfisodes in the hospital in the middle of the night that led to several changes of clothing.  Thankfully the nurses were super helpful and kept us well-stocked with receiving blankets and burp cloths.

I think the main thing is just to prepare for anything and be flexible because you never know how the hospital staff handles adoptive situations.  And since adoptions are not all that frequent, much of the staff may have never dealt with one before at all.  With Baby J, there was a very hands-on social worker present, but with M I don't think we ever spoke with a hospital social worker (but my memory could be failing me).

Any other ideas for what to pack for adoptive families? 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Baby J - 8 & 9 Month Update

This boy is busy, busy busy!  As you can probably tell, I can hardly keep up with him, his older brother and this blog!

8 Month Update: he is a [mini] man on a mission.  The champion of the army crawl and not afraid of any stairs.  He loves to eat anything - including sand, leaves, and dirt.  Trips to the playground are not very relaxing for me - he wants out of the stroller NOW and is crawling like crazy through the sand.  I really miss McEuen park and its turf!

9 Month Update: Baby J has graduated from his army crawl and bear crawl to a full-on speed crawl.  We have gated off our play area, but if he spies an open door, he can sure get to it quickly!  When M plays outside and I've kept him in on the porch, he pulls up to the window and loves to just stand there and yell at M.  He is pulling up and cruising up and down the couch and anything else!  He is definitely a "gross motor baby" as my Mom and I call him. 

 He has 3 teeth poking through, too!!  Two on top and 1 on the bottom.  What a grin with those chompers, too.  He is babbling more and definitely saying "Dadadada" but not meaning it yet.  He hates to be gated in the playroom while I'm cooking dinner, and mostly stands at the gate and yells at me!  He still loves to snuggle in the Ergo and come along with us wherever we go, and he is great in the double stroller on a run, loving M's constant narration/questions.

I think we are all going to be due for haircuts, this weekend, don't you think?  Baby J, we love and adore you!  You are a tremendous blessing to our lives!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

7QT: 7 Scenes from Summer

I've been meaning to post this for awhile, but I'm running out of time before summer officially ends!  So bear with me for a little flashback trip over some highlights from our summer:

1.  Our grand road trip/move from beautiful Idaho to Minnesota (also lovely - but completely different!)

There is nothing like Montana.

2.  We bought a house!  Yikes/yay.  This is our porch.  Not our furnishings.  I need some serious interior design help!

We have a picket fence!  Does it get more suburban/quaint than that?!

Beach week.  Heavenly!


One month of city life in Minneapolis.  We walked everywhere and it was a great [loud] adventure!


A trip to the Sculpture Garden!


Lots and lots of lake time.


Another glorious trip to Florida!  We are already making the most of the direct flights. =)

Bonus pick: back to running/jogging/walking together in our new double Bob.  I love my sweet running buddies!

On we go to Fall and all things apple/pumpkin whatever.  The lake cabin is all closed up so we're looking forward to doing some more exploring around our local area.  Have a wonderful week, y'all!

Check out more Quick Takes here

Friday, September 4, 2015

Weekend Getaway

A couple of weeks ago, we were so lucky to get a little weekend getaway to visit my parents and sisters in FL.  I flew by myself with the boys and they were super travelers.  My parents generously took us here.  There's just no place like the beach!

The happiest little baby on the beach.

Sister time!


I brought some seashells home and put them by our front door.  A little touch of home in the Midwest.

Have a wonderful, restful Labor day weekend! 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Life Lately

Happy September!  Here is a little bit of what we've been doing....

 Blessed by #BlessedisShe

I went to a "Blessed Brunch" recently in Saint Paul.  The brunch was hosted by the Minnesota writers of this website, Blessed Is She, which I stumbled upon earlier this year and I can't even recall why or how I found it!  Anyway, the event was lovely and refreshing and the warmest welcome.  The website presents the daily readings and a short devotional, among other things.  It has been a great way for me to quickly find the daily readings when I can't get my Bible in hand.  The food was delicious and it is so inspiring to meet women living out their faith in their daily lives with joy.  Blessed is She is worth a look if you haven't checked it out already!

Homeownership Fun

Not a day goes by that I don't think "I love our house!"  Phew!  No buyer's remorse here - although the dishwasher isn't working so well and the washing machine conked out on us.  And there is way too much brown in this house - I'm looking forward to freshening up the place and making it as bright as possible!  

Baby on the Move

We have a "sunken" living room that I call the playroom.  It was functioning as a natural playpen for baby J, but he has recently figured out how to climb right up that one stair.  He is starting to push up on to his hands and feet, and will occasionally regular-crawl.  And he loves to pull up to standing too.  Yikes!

What's new with you?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Fort Matanzas National Monument

When we were down in Florida, we took the little boys on an adventure to Fort Matanzas.  A boat ride, a fort to climb all over and a shoreline to explore -- they were in heaven!  [And, they might have even learned a little something!]

This place is GREAT, especially for small kids.  My mom said she brought us here several times when we were little.  It's FREE!  So our crew of little dudes were pumped to ride the boat over and back and explore the fort.  We couldn't get enough tickets for us all to go, so I stayed at the Visitor Center with baby J, D and my brother in law.

The short nature trail/board walk is the perfect length for little legs and our little Idahoan was fascinated by all of the lizards.  If you are in the St. Augustine area and need a break from the beach or the crowds downtown, go here for a morning outing.  It's not far but it is the perfect amount of adventure and history.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

5...6...7 months - Baby J Updates!

How has time flown by so quickly with this little guy!

By five months.....he started rolling both ways from front to back and now from back to front.  We also started solid foods, and he is thrilled to get anything in his mouth.

By six months....he was quickly rolling himself across the room to get what he wants.

By seven months....he is now "army crawling" and getting up on his hands and knees/rocking back and forth.  I know he'll be crawling soon and I don't think I can handle it!  We're experimenting with mushed up banana pieces and cheerios to work on self-feeding - although he just gets super frustrated when he can't quite get the food in his mouth.  It is hilarious because the look on his face is like the most dissatisfied restaurant customer ever!

He loves taking baths and sits up in the baby bath tub and splashes like crazy.  He's still not a great sleeper and only sleeps through the night on occasion.  But, we've been through so many transitions lately (on the road, in FL, living in a studio apartment! etc.) that I can't blame him for his interrupted sleep.  He weighs 23 pounds and wears size 12 month clothes, so I was getting my workout carrying him around Minneapolis.  He can sit up without immediately toppling over, and he can lean forward from sitting to get himself into position to crawl and push himself back up to sit.   He doesn't babble but he loves to laugh, squeal and scream (haha!).  Daddy needs some ear plugs!  He is still super duper smiling, loves to pull hair and will drag himself across the room to play with his big brother.  I love getting to watch him change and grow day by day.  He is a miracle and a blessing.  We love you baby J!

America the Beautiful: Beach Edition

After we drove across the upper West, we flew down to Florida for the annual family week at the beach in Florida, aka "cousin camp" for our boys and my nephews.  Didn't I just say that Montana is the most beautiful place in the world?  Well, if you could combine it with the beaches of north Florida, then it would be simply perfect.

M had an epic time playing with his big cousins.  J spent most of his days snoozing and we all had a great time relaxing on the beautiful porch and visiting with our far-flung family.  Family time is such a blessing.

M and my 4 year old nephew E.  M is his shadow whenever we get together!

I have no idea how people get wiggly kids to line up and all look at the camera with a nice, normal smile.  This was the best we could do....=)

Our view of beautiful St. Augustine Beach!

4 of the 5 boys on the beach. 

D pushed the couches together to make a clean, soft spot for baby J to roll around in.  Of course, the bigger boys took it over for their dogpile.  Needless to say, it quickly became a little bit sandy....

Don't you love the kid-sized rockers that come with the house?!  We did!  We're already looking forward to our next beach trip!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Northwest to Midwest Part 3: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park was an unexpected delight for me.  D took several trips there as a child and teenager, but this was a first trip for me since I didn't drive through western North Dakota when we initially moved West.  This time, we spent a night there camping, which, of course, was too short, but it was a lot of fun.

Backing up a bit - the drive through eastern Montana had to have been the most remote- and desolate-looking part of our trip.  The landscape was mostly flat and sparsely populated, I was surprised at how uncomfortable it made me because it made me feel like we were really, really isolated!

We also pushed our luck and spent too much time driving from Yellowstone to North Dakota.  Both boys had had it after six hours.  For all future road trips we will be limiting our driving time to no more than six hours a day!

When we finally arrived at TRNP, we spilled out of the 'burb and relished in the cool air while D set up our campsite!!  M basically played "construction vehicles" in the dirt the whole time we were there while I kept my eyes on the bison parked right across the river from our campsite.

I thought I was being sly and not communicating my concern at the proximity of the bison when I asked D "can bison swim?" (I didn't want him to think I was being a wimp, and he said no, btw.)  So imagine my surprise when I looked down the river and saw another bison ford the six-inches-deep water with ease!  He did meander his way down through our campsite, and when we woke up the next morning, he was hanging outside the bathrooms!

The park ranger also casually mentioned to us that they also have "ticks and rattlesnakes in the park."  Luckily, we didn't see any of those during our short stay.  We saw lots of bison, prairie dogs and wild horses.  On our way out of town, we stopped at the Painted Canyon Overlook, which was striking.  This park, while remote, is worth the effort that it takes to get there, and I'm hopeful for future trips there!

From here, we drove across North Dakota to our final stop on our road trip: D's parents' lake cabin in Minnesota.  We saw so many beautiful places that I want to return to again and again!  I think Montana might be the most beautiful place in the world. =)  But for now, I'll settle for all of the Minnesota exploring that we have to do!

A Trip to the Hardware Store

D took 3 year old M on a Saturday morning trip to Lowe's.  You've never seen a more excited little boy.  Some of the gems I overheard as they headed out the door:

"Daddy, we are big guys!"

This is M and Daddy time.  Not time for Moms." (?!)

"We got dressed in our work clothes, and now it's time to do our jobs!"

"Let's go be Handy Manny's!"

Thursday, July 23, 2015

[Belated] Scenes from our Fourth of July

The happiest fisherman on the lake.  I thought he would last about five minutes out there, but they were fishing all morning!  He caught two sunnies!

Ridiculously Happy Baby loves the feeling of the grass between his toes.  And the taste!

How sweet! 

Now, for the choke hold hug....

Family photo on the boat with husband's soaked we could do, we were in and out of the water!


Hope you had a fabulous Fourth!