Welcome Baby Rayah!

We welcomed another addition to our clan today. I witnessed one of the most beautiful births in my life. Kerrie labored for 4 hours and pushed for 15 minutes. At 8:16 a.m. sweet baby Rayah Joann was born. She weighed 6 lbs 11 0z and was 20.5 inches long. Both mom and baby are doing excellent! She is a self soother and nurses like a champion. Congratulations Kerrie (aka Rock Star) and Clayton (aka Proud Papa)!
R.J. X 2 (Ray Jackson and Rayah Joann)  He kept saying she looks like a baby doll.  I think he imagined something more like Hank coming out. :)
Mom and baby.
I feel sorry for any boys that come knocking at her door with these two protectors.
Dotting  daddy.  She already has him wrapped around her little pinkie. 
The new family of four.
Grampy and Grammy's 8th grandbaby!
She is the cutest thing ever and such a sweet nature!  I pray God blesses her little life and that she comes to know Him as Lord.


Letting go. It is the end of a relationship. It is the end of a special bond between mother and child. The end of moments where your heart swells with so much love, at times it feels as if it might burst from your chest. Weaning is a hard time for me. It is time for them to take flight and grow; yet I desperately want to hold on to them as babies for just one more night.

The hours spent rocking, snuggling, and gazing at their soft, perfect skin. Taking in their sweet smell of freshly bathed hair. Letting go of the times when their warm hands rub my face or hold my hand or twirl my hair. Letting go of being able to provide a comfort beyond any hug or kiss. Letting go of healing any emotional or physical hurt by bringing them to breast. Letting go of easing a cold by nursing. Letting go of sending them off to sleep with a full tummy and a content spirit. Letting go of calming their fussiness with cuddling arms. Letting go of babyhood.
Nursing has been one of the most special times of my life. I cherish the moments I have had with each baby, wrapped in a blanket of love. It was far more than providing the best nutrition. It was a relationship, a bond of love that grew with each nursing. While it did not start out as a magical moment, it has become more dear to my heart than any other part of motherhood. It was so difficult and painful in the begging with Hailey that only my stubborn countenance prevented me from quitting. I was determined to provide her with the best despite the severe pain. I had to bite on something while she nursed and stared at the clock with fierce determination, willing the minutes to go by faster. With time it got better and soon became the most treasured moments I had with her. With each baby the beginning was always rough but I knew if I could just grin and bare it for a few weeks, the effort would be well worth it. When working I would skip lunch so that I could pump to keep my supply up to maintain an exclusively breastfed baby. There was great sacrifice but I was rewarded ten fold.
Now as I hold my last baby my heart aches knowing this time is ending. With Hailey I could hardly wait for my freedom and had her weaned the day she turned one year old. Each tour of duty extended as I realized how fleeting a year really is. Karlie was 14 months old and Katilin was 15 months old. With each of them I was motivated to wean so that I could have a few months of my body being all mine before getting pregnant again and I always knew another baby would bring another year of nursing. However, with Hank, there is no baby in the future. Last night Hank did not want to nurse before bed, nor did he at his afternoon nap today. He is telling me he is ready. Never again will I nurse a baby. While my arms will always be open and ready to hold, they will never hold that magic of nursing.

First Day of School ~ 2009

With the move came many big changes, including changing schools.  We used to attend a fabulous charter school that had a very strong focus on academics.  The girls were sad to leave their best buddies.  I was sad to leave such a great school.  It was small enough that you recognized almost everyone and knew many of the kids and teacher's names.  It felt comfortable and the education was top notch.  We tired to stay in the same area so the kids could continue there, but also looked in other districts that had good public schools.  Our new house is in one of the best districts in the state and supposedly their new school is the best in the district.  It is only 3 years old and received the best scores on the state standardized test.  We are hoping it holds up to our high expectations.
Our little cowgirl on her first day of 3rd grade!  She was very nervous to meet all her new classmates and start at a new school  She was quiet and when I asked her what she did at school, she replied, "learn."  Another big change is she rides the bus home (at her request).  This growing up business is hard on a mom.
Karlie on her first day of Kindergarten.  She was very excited and told us all about her day and all the friends she met.
Not a bad view from the playground.
My little ladybug Kaitlin also started preschool this year.  Max and I have been wrestling with if we should send her to the special education preschool program.  Kaitlin has a speech delay and qualifies for services through the state.  A speech therapist came to our house every week until she turned three at which time they transfer them to the preschool program.  At three years they go twice a week for two and half hours and at four they go four days a week for three hours.

It is hard to know if it will help her considering the setting of other speech delayed kids, kids with English as their second language, and kids that are developmentally delayed.  Her therapist assures me that it will help to be with teachers who specialize in speech, but I wonder if it wouldn't be better to have kids that can speak well as her model.  We are giving it a month and going to see how she progressing.  There are so many decisions to make as a parent.  It is hard to know what is right and best for them.  I am always left second guessing with one or the other it seems.
It was hard letting go...  I think more for me than her.  Sunglasses were my saving grace.  I could cry away and pretend to be smiling as they walked away.  When really, the tears welled up and then rolled down my cheeks.  I waved and blew kisses and  managed to contain the big cry until it was just Hank and me in the car.  It was so quiet and eerily still.  I felt something was missing.  Three little extensions of me that have been my constant companion for three months were suddenly gone to spread their wings.  Change is hard.

Today's Treasure ~ Allergy Temporary Tattoos

My friend Courtney told me about allergy temporary tattoos and I thought it was such a great idea but didn't think I would need them yet. That was until Sunday at church.

I volunteer in the nursery once a month and know the nursery staff well. I know the sweet songs they sing, the routines and I also know the kids get animal crackers for a snack. Unfortunately, the animal crackers are processed in a plant that use peanuts, so Hank can't have them. As a paranoid mom, I always bring him some Gerber puffs so he can have snack too. I know they all know about his allergies, but being a nervous Nelly, I still remind them every time I drop him off that he can't have the crackers and his puffs are in the bag.

After service when I went to pick him up, they handed me the diaper bag and a bag of Annie's Bunny snack. I routinely put snacks for all the kids in the diaper bag and thought nothing of it. I guess they thought anything in the bag was for Hank (like they should) and gave those to him. I had a mild panic attack as I read the ingredient list at lightening speed and saw it is made on shared equipment that also processes egg, milk, and soy. Thankfully nothing happened and he tolerated it all just fine. However, I began to think about what if I had a granola bar or some other peanut containing item in the bag. Until Hank can speak for himself, these might be handy to have around for times when I have to leave him with people who might not be so aware of allergies as we are.

The only draw back is how pricey they are. Ten bucks for only 6! I will keep searching but for now you can find them here at One Step Ahead

O Canada...

He has been at a 5 star resort.
I have been at
the Resort.

He has been eating fancy cuisine and attending Galas.
I had homemade mac-n-cheese and attended a Tea Party in my P.J.s!

He has been meeting important people from 30 different countries.
I have been entertaining the four most important people I know.

He has taken a tour of one of the most beautiful natural wonders.
I have taken a week long kid tour that left me wondering what I was thinking!

He has been learning the latest breakthroughs in Pathology.
I have been working on ABCs, colors, first words, discussing outer space and gas exchange.

He had trouble sleeping with all the quiet.
I had trouble sleeping with all the different kids in my bed.

He is tired.
I am tired.

He comes home.
I am home waiting!

Max has been in Banff, Canada all week for a pathology conference and we have missed him so much.  I think he missed us too.

Today's Treasure ~ Gymboree Back to School Sale

Gymboree is having one of their best sales of the year. Everything from their new line is $20, $15, or $10. Outerwear and shoes are only $20! Then you use the 20% off your entire purchase coupon found in this months issue of Good Housekeeping and everything becomes 16, 12, and 8 bucks. Right now you also earn gymbucks for the future. For every $50 you spend, you earn 25 dollars at Gymboree in Oct. As if it can't get any better, they also offer free shipping if you spend $100!

During nap time I get to sit and click and add things to my bag. Mix and match outfits and see how much I am spending. I can add everything and then put back as I like without 4 little monkeys running through the store, begging me to leave, needing to go pee or wanting a snack! Uninterrupted shopping that gets delivered to my door! It is really the best part of my day! If you are a Gymboree-aholic like me, you can sign up for the gymboree Visa and get and additional 5% off every purchase. So get shopping! Sale ends Sunday.

Little Ladybug Baby Shower

I co-hosted my sister Kerrie's baby shower on Saturday.  I threw her shower for R.J 5 years ago to the day! But I must admit I am partial to girl baby showers.  Something about fluffy, ruffly, and tiny pink stuff makes it so fun.  Maybe it's the three little ladies that rule my world, but I really enjoyed putting this one together.  Kerrie's nursery theme is ladybugs, so I used that as the shower theme.
My mom bought a picture frame for all the guests to sign so she could always have it.
This was such a fun cake to make!  I have never done fondant bows before or made any of the cake the day before the event.  It was so nice to spread out some of the work over two days instead of rushing around.  Although I was still adding to it and rushing this time, it wasn't nearly as crazy as usual.  At least I got to shower and put make-up on this time. :)  I made the bows, flower on top, and part of the ladybugs the day before and then assembled the rest the morning of the shower.
The top tier was carrot cake with cream cheese frosting because that is the only kind of cake Kerrie likes.  But I figured a room full of women would need some chocolate, so the bottom layer was chocolate with buttercream icing.
I thought it would be cute to string a clothes line up and hang all the outfits she received up.  Guest always want to see all the cute baby clothes.  We added ladybug stickers to the clothes pins.  Jessica, the other co-host made baby Rayah's name.
We used fresh sunflowers throughout the house to brighten the room.  I also got a few glass bowls that we floated Gerbera Daisies  in.  With a few soft pink candles, we had the mood set for lots of "clucking" as Snork calls it and eating.  My Aunt Lisa brought her chocolate fountain that we dipped bananas, strawberries, raspberries, marshmallows, and pound cake in.  There was plenty of salty snacks to balance all the sweet too! 
Kerrie's favorite baby shower game is dress and diaper the baby.  Similar to a three legged race, you partner up with someone and each of you can only use your outside hand.  Together they had to undress, change the diaper and redress the doll.  Luckily I have three girls, so supplying a half dozen dolls was no problem.

We also played the matching candy bar game.  This game is great fun and almost everyone gets a prize.  You set up a memory matching board with the words relating to pregnancy and babies.  Cover the squares with post-its that are numbered.  Each time a guest makes a match, they get the candy bar that correlates to the match.
Engorgement = Mounds
Conception night = Skor
Triplets = 3 Musketeers
Twins = Twix
What Pregnancy Does to Moms = Air Heads
Diapers, Wipes, Formula = Payday
What you give to a newborn = Hugs and Kisses
Contractions = Whoppers
Umbilical Cord = Twizzlers
Baby Boy Names = Mike and Ike
Baby Girl Name = Baby Ruth
11 pound baby = Chunky
Hospital Bill = 100 Grand
Baby Poop = Tootsie Roll
Nursery Rhymes = Symphony
Epidural = Lifesavers
Breastfeeding = MilkyWay
I suggest finding your candy before choosing the words you will use.  I had to go to three places to get all the candy.  Walgreens has the best selection. Don't bother with Target.

We also played don't say "baby" or lose your necklace and guess how many candies are in the baby bottle.
Then we had everyone cut a piece of yarn how big they thought Kerrie's tummy was.  This one always gets lots of laughs.  You can pick the veteran moms out easily as you watch them eye and then cut their piece.

I am so excited to be getting another niece (I only have one and 6 nephews!).  I love you Bubbus and hope you know how special you are to me.

Dragon Tales

We try to limit the kids to one hour of TV a day. I have relaxed that a bit over the summer but during the school year they get to watch one show in the morning and one in the afternoon. When Hailey was little I always saved her TV time for when I was making dinner. At 5pm PBS always played Dragon Tales, a sweet cartoon about a brother and sister that travel to an imaginary land of dragons. It has lessons on sharing and numerous issues that preschoolers face. I loved Dragon Tales. To this day if I here the music from it, I think of making dinner and Hailey as a preschooler.

Hailey really liked the show for a long time and as a result, Karlie then learned to like them too. I was so sad the day PBS changed their programing and moved Dragon Tales out of the dinner making time slot to mid morning. Since it is late in the morning, we haven't watched it most of the summer. Today we were having a lazy morning and as I was about to turn the off the TV, Dragon Tales was starting. Hailey said, "But mom, I want to watch Dragon Tales!" It was one of those Kleenex moments where I saw my little 3 year old Hailey shining through this big 8 year old kid. I got that ache in my heart and my eyes began to tear because she is still innocent and sweet enough to get pleasure out of such a wholesome show. When I see many kids her age trying so hard to grow up, wearing mini skirts, make-up and into the newest tween bands, it makes my heart swell that she is still just a kid!

Blueberry Angel Food Cake

Every summer I try out a new blueberry recipe and this time I tried a blueberry angel food cake from Cooking Light. It is a beautiful cake. Our best friends' kids go back to school this week, so we had a back-to-school bash with this cake, sparkling cider and a pool (kiddie) side lunch at their house. The kids loved it. I would recommend using a little more powder sugar for the glaze as mine was a little too runny. It is also best the day it is baked, by the next day the berries and glaze make is soggy. A great cake if you need to use up some eggs or can get blueberries for 99 cents a pint!Cake

1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup sifted cake flour (I used regular all purpose flour)
12 large egg whites
1 1/4 tsp Cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
2 Tbsp sifted cake flour
1 Tbsp grated lemon rind

1 cup powdered sugar (I would try more sugar or less juice)
3 Tbsp lemon juice

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2.  Sift together 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup flour.

3.  In a large bowl, beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until foamy.  Add cream of tartar and salt, beat until soft peaks form.  Add 1 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.

4.  Sift flour mixture over egg white mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, fold in.  Fold in vanilla and blueberries.

5.  Combine 2 Tbsp flour and lemon rind, toss to coat.  Sprinkle over egg white mixture, fold in.

6.  Spoon the batter into an ungreased (I lightly sprayed mine with PAM) 10-inch tube pan, spreading evenly.  Bake for 40 minutes (mine was done in 35 minutes) or until springs back when lightly touched.

7.  Invert pan and cool.  Loosen the cake with a metal spatula and then invert onto cake pan.

8.  For the glaze, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl with a whisk.  Drizzle whisk over top of cake.