Monday, December 27, 1999

Yet Another One of Those Milestones.... (9mo)

Kate, at 9 months old, reached another milestone today: 'First Time to Throw an Object
in the Toilet'..... It was a piece of a puzzle....



Oh well, it is better than when Tara threw our tooth brushes in there
a few years ago :p

Wednesday, December 22, 1999

Our First Family Winter Solstice

We had fun celebrating the winter solstice for the very first time ever. I am trying to build a set of rituals that the kids later will remember with fondness. For the good doing part, we went to the supermarket, where somebody was collecting money for the local hospital. We came in and he told me that they needed $3 to reach $2000, so of course, I gave him that. He immediately exclaimed happily through the whole supermarket, and went to call the radio station, after asking for our names. So that was fun. The rest of the supermarket visit was kind of badly timed, culminating in Timmy toppling over with cart and all, but I won't elaborate on that... :-)



During the afternoon, we went outside to collect sticks for our solstice fire. Cees was the only one who was focused on that, the other ones were wandering around, doing all kinds of things, once in a while remembering to get some sticks. But I got them all to contribute some, I didn't really care how much, I just liked the symbolism of everybody contributing to the fire. I also had normal logs for the fire, but figured we could use the sticks to start the fire, before we put a big log on it.



Back inside and trying to lit the fire. Well, that was were some little complications came in. Let's say that I am not a natural talent in the lighting of fires! LOL I think one of the problems was that the sticks from outside were not too dry yet, and I used newspapers which burned perfectly, but did nothing to light the sticks.... After a while I distracted the kids with a snack (by candlelight!), while I kept on struggling. Somehow this is not what I had envisioned when I planned a solstice fire LOL



After about an hour and getting some wood from our basement, which was really dry, I finally got the fire going! During the trying part, I kept having a baby who tried to climb all over me in the hope or reaching this very interested fire place! I still didn't really believe that it would stay burning, but it did, so slowly, I started
to relax ahout it. The kids were all ready to roast marshmellows, which they did for quite a while. They don't really have the patience for it, it was like keeping the marshmallow on a stick there for a few seconds, declaring it was done now, and happily eating it LOL. But they had tons of fun with it, which was my main goal. And by that time it was dark, so the fire looked really good.

Sander came home, and immediately started worrying about our house being burned down by the fire. I tried to reassure him, but he wasn't too convinced LOL

We had dinner by candlelight, which the kids loved. We ate French toast, which is a favorite of all the kids, and which we had chosen because it contains eggs, which symbolized a new start to us, the start of the days getting longer again.

After dinner there was supposed to be a solstice cake with a sun on it, but somehow I hadn't gotten around to baking it.... So we sent the kids off to play, I put the baby to bed and I sneaked out to the supermarket to get a ready made cake... (about 4 people in there commented on me being there without any kids!). Came home, used yellow frosting to put a sun on this chocolate cake, and then put seven candles on it, one for every member of the family.

It looked great and the kids were all excited about it. We extinguished all the lights, and talked about noticing how dark it was and that this was the longest night of the year. But (and then I lit a match), the sun was coming back again and these candles symbolized the return of the sun, making every day a little bit longer from now on.

I named all the family member names while I lighted the candles. We sang 'Happy Solstice To You!' together and then the kids worked together to blow out all the candles. We ate the cake together and then it was off to bed for the kids.

At night, Sander and I had planned our private celebration in front of the fire. I had picked up some champaign and chocolate in the supermarket and we were all ready for it, but kept getting interrupted by a worried Cees, who came downstairs asking how we would be sure that the fire went out and how he couldn't sleep because the fire was on.... When we still hadn't be able to get anything going around 1:30am and Cees came down for the x-th time, we decided that going to bed would be nice too LOL.

Sander extinguished the fire with some water, to reassure Cees, and we were off to bed, where we did have some solstice fun after all :-)

Like I said, this was the first time we did it and we had to make it up as we went, but I think it definitely was a success. I did some reading about solstice rituals and chose the things that I thought would work for us. I think we might get more elaborate overthe years, but for now, this was a good start.

Tuesday, June 01, 1999

Kate's placenta

In November we bought this house, and we have a huge yard, but the gardening season was over by then (we are in New Hampshire) I did buy and put in a few hundred bulbs, but that was it. I was planning on doing lots of gardening this year. This weekend, I bought two apple trees, a cherry tree and a blueberry bush. Dh put them in and under one of the apples, we buried Kate's placenta! It feels like the closure of my pregnancy. And the apple tree is kind of Kate's tree now. He buried it really deep, because he was afraid a fox would dig it up :-)

We stored it in the freezer until we could bury it. When my inlaws stayed here for a few weeks in April, we pointed it out to them in the freezer and warned them not to eat it. They kind of freaked out.

This is the first time we had the opportunity to do this and it feels good. I will definitely do it for any further kids we have too. Now we just have to hope the apple tree won't die, that would kind of feel like a bad omen :-)

I did put in lots of other flowers, bulbs, herbs and veggies too, I love this big yard. Don't know how successful I will be yet, but it is fun to work in it. Although it sometimes is challenging to do it with 'help' of the kids.

Saturday, January 23, 1999

Walking Statistics

Statistics for no particular reason:

Kid #1 walked at 17mo
Kid #2 walked at 12mo
Kid #3 walked at 12mo
Kid #4 walked at 10mo

They are all different. Still, it makes me wonder about #5 :-)

Friday, January 22, 1999

Wall Drawings

OK, Jane has entered the early creative phase of 'wall paintings'... She did it a few times in our rental with crayons, and we were able to get that off with a brush and some dish washing detergent (which was good, since we were just renting the house and it was on the market and had regular showings. We would not have been happy if it hadn't come off). We put all the crayons away and I think it happened only one or two more times, but not as excessively. She was very good in detecting crayons that one of the other kids had left laying around :-)

Now we are in our new house and it is ours and I have become less vigilant with the drawing utensils. The crayons are still out of reach, but we have lots of coloured pencils lying around that the boys use a lot and that Jane and Tara like to use to to draw on paper. But of course, the walls are so nice and freshly painted, that Jane sometimes can't resist it and starts drawing on them again... I haven't tried to get it off yet, but would welcome tips of how to do it. These are just painted walls, but I think the pencil would have to be taken off in a different way than crayons.

Sometimes I catch her running laughing out of the room where we keep the pencils, clutching a pencil tightly in her hands, and laughing hard when I try to get it away from her... Redirecting to paper sometimes helps, but not always. Another day I found both of the girls happily standing on Tara's bed, both having a pencil, having a ball drawing on that wall....

I have gotten very good at recognizing the sound of a pencil drawing on a wall :-)

Jane can Jump!

Jane now is finally able to get off the ground!!!! For the longest time, she tried, and ended up 'jumping without getting off the ground'. So funny to watch!!!! :-)

Another skill down!

Thursday, January 21, 1999

Leuke Lunch

Ik had vandaag de 'Dutch Luncheon' van de lokale 'International Womens Club'. Dat was waarvoor ik de drop nodig had, bedankt voor alle info, ik heb het op tijd kunnen krijgen. Het was een leuke lunch, ik ben blij dat ik gegaan ben. Ik gebruik de club om nieuwe contacten te maken, omdat we hier nog maar net naartoe verhuisd zijn. Ik heb zelfs een paar andere Nederlanders ontmoet!

De kinderen hebben zich uitstekend gedragen. Ik had een tas vol speelgoed en boeken meegebracht en dat hielp natuurlijk een hoop. Ik had nog wat klompen, dus 2 van de 4 liepen op klompen, voor een authentiek Nederlands tintje :-)

Ik kwam zelfs een andere Nederlandse tegen die ik jaren geleden in Vermont had ontmoet. We waren daar ooit een daagje geweest, toen ik nog maar 2 kinderen had. Daarna hadden we geen contact meer gehouden. Ik had haar leren kennen via een Amerikaanse email vriendin die zelf ook een tijdje in Nederland heeft gewoond. Heel leuk om haar plotseling daar weer terug te zien!

Wednesday, January 20, 1999

Timmy and the medicine spoon.....

Just had a close call with Timmy and a medicine spoon. This morning, while eating breakfast, he found a medicine spoon lying around. You know one of the transparent tube ones, with a spoon at the end, used for giving a few teaspoons of medicine. I never considered those a particular safety hazard. Little did I know! :-) So Timmy found one and decided he would put his finger in it! And that wouldn't be so bad, weren't it for not being able to get it out again!!!

By the time he came over to me, the top was turning blue already! So I tried to get it off, but wasn't able to. It was REALLY stuck! I let him put his hand under cold streaming water, in the hope that that would help. Put liquid soap on it, let him elevate it, NOTHING! I just wasn't able to get it off. Tried calling Sander, but he was not at his desk. Then I called our ped's office. Felt kind of silly for calling for something like that, but I couldn't leave it on like this either. So I talked to a nurse, who told me to use lots of liquid dishwashing detergent on it and keep it elevated. Did that and after a few minutes, I finally was able to pull it off!!! Using considerable force! I was soooo relieved. The finger was turning more and more blue by then, so I saw us going off to the emergency room already.... After we got the spoon off, it turned nice and pink again within minutes.

Life is never boring!!!

A Fox!!!!

This morning Sander woke me up and told me there was a fox in our back yard!!! So neat!! We watched him (or her :-) for a few minutes before he disappeared again. He was pretty close to the house, I am not sure what he was doing there. I throw out some food every day for the squirrels and the birds, but it was too early for them and I don't think a fox would eat that food.

We have lots of squirrels and small squirrel like creatures (they look like chipmunks, but don't have the stripes. They are kind of reddish and just look like miniature squirrels and are very, very fast. Any ideas? Is is just a different kind of squirrel?) We also have tons of blue jays every morning and some other birds that I haven't identified yet (haven't found the birds book in all of our boxes). But the fox was a new one!

Tuesday, January 19, 1999

My Midwife Visit

I had a midwife's visit on Tuesday. I had lost 2 lbs since 2 weeks ago! Also, my uterus size was still the same, but she thought the baby was the right size and had dropped somewhat already. It was a nice visit, the kids behaved really well and didn't get into any fights about toys. She checked my iron which had gone up a little and I had spilled some sugar in my urine, so she gave me test strips to monitor at home. If I spill it too often, she recommended doing the GTT. She told me they don't use the glucola drink, they use the one where you come in in the morning before eating anything, they draw your blood, then you go out, get breakfast and come back and they draw blood again.

The baby is nicely head down and not posterior any more. All the kids listened with the fetoscope to the heart beat. It was fun to watch them concentrate on the sound. Jane looked so seriously!

One more office visit and then they will do a home visit. Nice, then I don't have to go out! :-)

We chatted some about how things were going and then the hour was over and I went to the store to get some more 50 lbs bags of salt, since our driveway is incredibly icy!!!

Back in Cloth Diapers

We are back in cloth diapers!!!! I have used cloth at home since Tara was born, but last year, when we moved to Europe, I wasn't able to take them with me, so they were in disposables for quite a while. Then in December, when I got my stuff back out of storage, I also got back the cloth diapers and since then, I have been using cloth again!! (just at home, for longer trips out of the house and for at night I use disposables) I got almost all the diapers and wraps 2nd hand from consignment stores etc, so it saves quite a lot of money.

>It's weird but I am SO GLAD to be back to using cloth (even if it's only
>temporary). It will be hard though, to go back to using disposables in a few
>weeks! All I will see is $.13 going down the tube everytime I change him!!
>LOL

I know the feeling. We also use wash clothes again instead of wipes and they are so much more effective and that's another thing that saves some money. Of course, now we miss out on the Chubs boxes :-) But we have so many of them anyway, that I can live with that.

Tara is wanting to wear underwear some days, but now always successful in it yet. But since I have to wash the diapers anyway, I just dump the underwear and clothes after accidents in there, so it isn't any extra work.

The Joys of Slings

(reaction to someone complaining about her baby boy ALWAYS wriggling out of his stroller straps)

Had to laugh about this one. All my kids have been like that. The only time when they would stay in a stroller was if they felt like it, which isn't too often... They can escape from any set of straps in strollers and in supermarket carts and in high chairs.... I have always been amazed about how people would sit down to eat something in a food court and they would park the stroller next to them and the baby would just stay in there, sitting!!! Just watching them and munching something. My kids always wanted OUT and either walk around or sit at the table and eat there (for at least a few minutes until they want to walk around :-)

That's why I usually don't even take a stroller, but just use a sling. And for the boys we used a backpack, it was rather hard to climb out of that one, although Timmy managed to do even that. The big drawback with a backpack with Cees was that he always threw up.... Not because of the backpack, just because that happened fairly often. It is not fun to have a baby in a backpack throwing up on you and himself in the middle of a store!!!

I remember one day when Tim was a baby and I was out with a friend and Timmy kept standing up in the stroller, that she told me 'you should just put him down every time he does that, then he will stop doing it within a few days.' Ha, that might have worked for her baby, but I had been doing that for MONTHS with Tim and it still didn't work and has never worked after that either... Oh well :-)

Friday, January 15, 1999

Freezing Rain AGAIN!!!

Yet another day with freezing rain! I haven't been out with the kids in a week! We do kick the boys out in the back yard to do some sledding, but the last days it was too cold to even do that. Yesterday Cees wanted to go sledding and came back in after 5 or 10 minutes, complaining that his face was freezing. It was below zero, so I wasn't really surprised...

You know, I don't really mind snow, but I HATE the freezing rain. It makes our driveway impossible to get up and we now have layers of ice, sand, salt, snow, more sand, more snow, more ice etc on it.... It will take a while to get that clean!

The kids, btw, don't seem to mind. We got a new Lego Dacta Technic set this week and the boys have been busy building a dinosaur and a car and an elevator, all with motor and lights. They are having lots of fun with it! The girls enjoy just playing around and watching teletubbies or Winnie the Pooh.

Friday, January 08, 1999

Duplo!

Jane's newest addiction is Duplo! She can spent hours just building high towers and taking them apart again. She is soooo focused doing it, it is very cute to watch. She also loves the Duplo animals (of which we have sooo many, since I love to buy them)

Hubby is happy about it, since he is a grownup lego addict, so he likes it when he sees something like this in his kids :-)

My house might still be unorganized, but the Duplo IS organized already!

Someone replied:
>Kenzie loves this too, but has hard time doing it if Maddie
>(who is *3* today!!) is around and Maddie will constantly take
>what she is building, and generally make Kenzie frustrated!!
>
>How is Tara when Jane is into her Duplos??

Usually they are fine together, but sometimes they both want the same baby or so and things end in a screaming and hitting match.... We have tons of Duplos, so that helps a lot, most things will have a duplicate somewhere. And now that the Duplo is organized, I often am able to find it really soon! :-)

Even Timmy at 5yo still likes to play with the Duplo. He builds zoos or whole dinosaur worlds. And of course the Duplo train is a favorite of all kids. They let it ride through the whole house! We need some more rails.

Thursday, January 07, 1999

More Homeschooling Questions Answered

>Well Karen you've got guts!!! I don't think i'd be able to home school my
>kids. That's wonderful that you have though. How do you know what to
>teach them? Do you have a book that tells you what they should be learning
>at what age? I would love to know more. I'm sure it would be much more
>fun for my daughter to learn at home since there's no pressure of the time
>just nice and relaxed and you can take a break when they seem to need it.

We use the books 'What your kindergartner needs to know' and the rest (What your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc grader needs to know) as a guidance and as core curriculum. For math we use Saxxon math, they have a full method for every grade, we use 3rd grade for Cees, 1st grade for Timmy. This is really easy, they have a lesson plan for every day, so you just follow that. For Timmy we use a phonics program, also Saxxon, kindergarten phonics. Although I think we'll wait a few weeks before starting that again, even when we start, because he has fluid in his ears again and is very very deaf. Kind of hard to learn phonics when you can't hear! That's another nice thing about homeschooling. In cases like this, I can just take a break. In school, he would miss weeks of phonics teaching, because he plainly can't hear it at the moment.

For the rest we follow their interests. They are really into Egypt and mummies at the moment, so we got lots of books about that for Christmas etc. Also the library is a great resource of course. Cees wants to learn more about astronomy, so we are doing an on line course on that now, and we check out books about it in the library. I also have found some great kids astronomy web sites, that he likes to look at. Cees would like to learn Japanese, so we are going to start that up soon too. Haven't got materials yet, just a cdrom, I would like some books too.

Oh, and we also took some Dutch language arts etc books from their school in the Netherlands, so that they can keep up with their Dutch.

I think we have all the bases covered. And of course there are museums, in which there are great things to see and to do. We have a great children's science museum nearby, which we visit regularly.

Homeschooling Questions Answered

>Hi Karen, Wow you are a busy mom!!! How do you find the energy or the
>time for yourself?

They all go to sleep rather late, so tend to sleep in. I often get an hour or more early in the morning for myself.

>When you say home schooling do you teach them yourself or do you have a
>tutor come in?

I teach them myself.

>I know this is none of my business but what made you decide on this
>decision? I'm curious since i don't know much about it and would love to
>know more.

The decision evolved over the years. I read a lot about it and felt that this might be the way to go for our family. I love homeschooling, because the kids are able to work at their own pace and have more time to follow their own interests. Especially Cees is pretty far ahead in most academic subjects, apart from writing (he is not good at fine motor skills) This way I can let him study every subject at his level, instead of at first-grade (what he should be in age wise) or second-grade (what he was in in the Netherlands) level. At the moment we are taking a break, because of the move, but we'll start again soon.

What I usually do is do all school work in the morning. It is amazing how much you can do in one or two hours one-on-one time. Then the rest of the day they are free to do whatever they want (within reasonable limits of course). They have started doing karate, which they like. I want to hook up with other homeschooling families around here, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Still in the process of unpacking and unpacking and unpacking!

There is lots of info about homeschooling on line. A nice benefit for me is that I don't have to get them ready for school really early in the morning :-) That used to be a chore while we still lived in the Netherlands! Shows how lazy I am.

Wednesday, January 06, 1999

Entropy Always Increases

The whole house is still full of moving boxes and I just don't know where to put the stuff. There is so much to organize, but somehow the chaos always gets bigger instead of less... Oh well.

Hoping that this time I will get real nesting instinct and I will clean and organize the whole house, not holding my breath though :-) Not like I ever got it during the other pregnancies.

Tuesday, January 05, 1999

Tara's Speech

Just a quick update.

Tara at 2.5yo speaks very clearly and in full or almost full sentences. It is impressive to see how well she is doing in the verbal department. Maybe it proves that she is a girl?

Timmy's Ears

Around Christmas, we noticed that Timmy was getting deaf again. He had his last (third) set of ear tubes last January, but they have fallen out already. So I did some informal tests over the last weeks and yes, we were pretty sure he was quite deaf.

So I called our family practioner yesterday and set up an appointment for today. And yes, he had fluid in both ears. She did a tympanogram and both of them were flat :-( I get so tired of this! So now we'll wait a month, see whether he still has the fluid and if so, be referred to the ENT and most likely end up with his fourth set of tubes.

Also, his weight hadn't gone up at all over the last year. So we are going to decrease his ritalin dose and see what that does. He used to be fiftieth his whole life, until he started the ritalin last year. Now he is 10th percentile, so that's quite a drop.

We have a follow up appointment on Feb 8. Let's hope that the fluid has gone away by then, although with his history, I doubt it.

We are up to six sets of ear tubes between the two boys so far.

Saturday, January 02, 1999

Smoke Detectors

We spent part of the night and the very early morning being up and about, wondering why the smoke detector kept going off. Yesterday, I was baking something and I had spilled a little bit of food on a burner and that triggered it a few times. But when the muffins were ready, things went back to normal and it didn't go off any more. Yesterday, we also installed some built in shelves and hubby was stressing out over drilling into an electrical wire instead of a stud.

Then last night, at 2:30am, the smoke detector downstairs went off! The dishwasher was on, so we were wondering whether that had something to do with it. Also of course we thought the screws for the new shelves might have hit something after all. But a careful and thorough inspection of the house didn't reveal anything. The smoke detector had stopped beeping when hubby came downstairs, so after a while, we went back to bed. The moment he lay down 'BEEEEEEP' again.... Back downstairs, new inspection, still nothing seemed to be wrong. So he ended up changing the battery, seeing whether that might be the problem. This seemed to solve the problem for then and he finally came back to bed.

5am. another 'BEEEEEEP' woke me up! Another inspection of the house, still nothing. The smoke detector kept going off though. This time Sander took down this smoke detector and replaced it with another one that was still lying around. This one started beeping with the small beeps that sometimes indicate a low battery, but after a few minutes stopped doing that. After it stopped, we tested it, it worked fine and we went back to bed. We haven't heard it any more.

So I guess the old one gave false alarms, because it was getting old or so??? I don't know how old it is, it was in the house already when we bought it. I am also wondering whether it had something to do with the false alarms while baking yesterday? I had the feeling at night, that it was another false alarm, but I was not going to take that for granted! I felt better after we had installed the other one and that one did not go off. Does anybody know whether smoke alarms do need to be replaced every x years or so to prevent this? I guess there is no sure way to determine whether it is real or a false alarm when they go off? I even considered calling the fire department asking their advice about the smoke detector going off without any clear source, but was hesitant to do so at 3am. I thought that there might be something smouldering behind the new built-in shelves that we could not detect yet. I wasn't sure how to find out about that.

I am also going to buy a fire extinguisher again. We used to have one, but I am not sure where it went with all the moving around and I felt a definite need for one last night!

I am used to being woken up by kids at night, not by smoke detectors! By the way, all four kids slept through all the alarms!!!!!