I am sleepy. Beyond sleepy. Exhausted. Last night Hailey stayed up with Audreyanna until about 1:30 so that I could get some sleep so today I can actually put words together to form a sentence.I have had lots of babies, some great sleepers and some not so great sleepers. But my days are so full of the needs and activities of the rest of the family that they would exhaust me even with a good nights sleep, and when sleep comes in fits and spurts it doesn't take long to slip below the waves.

Cry it out is not my thing, I just don't have the stomach for it. So I got this book from the library to see what I could see. I was so giddy when I picked it up that I thought if it worked I would kiss it and hug it and dance it around the room. I might even buy my own copy and build a little shadow box to display it over the fireplace!

So, the book basically advocates gradually changing your babies habits and routines. Up until the last couple of babies, my kids were always on somewhat of a schedule. Not full blown bedtime routines, but the pretty much had a bedtime, and a naptime and they happened at pretty much the same time every day. Through the fog of my rose colored glasses it seemed like they were better sleepers. My last 3 have NOT been good sleepers. And they have not really had sleep time schedules. Hmmm. I know it sounds obvious, but you have to coming at it hiking uphill through a jungle of exhaustion where people keep grabbing your legs. It's harder to see.

So, Pantley says her suggestions could take some time to really see results. I really want to put her to be tonight and wake up in the morning shocked that she's still sleeping, but we're going to give it a go. I had already been trying to teach her that she doesn't actually have to have my breast in her mouth all night long to sleep. But I need to be more consistent. I have got her to the point where I can sometimes exract myself from her mouth and she will complain a little and go back to sleep. But only as long as I stay on my side facing her. If I try to move to my back or put my back toward her, her super spidey senses kick in and she is awake and crying.

So, we are going to work on real nap times. In her own bed. Hopefully working up to 2 naps about 1.5 - 2 hours each, in her bed. Rather than 3 - 4 naps of 15 - 20 min each in our arms. And I hope to get my response time during the night to times when she is actually hungry and she will learn to just fall back to sleep when she wakes as a regular part of the infant sleep cycle.

We'll see. Right now she is up every hour to hour and a half and she wants attention and comfort nursing. I would also like her to start the night in her co-sleeper at least until the first nursing. Which will hopefully be after several hours of sleep.

I'm going to use the heat pad to warm her bed before putting her in it. The book is really a lot of common sense solutions, but it was helpful to read it. I think I got a little lazy with my little ones. I just sort of fit them around everything that was going on with the biggers, instead of really working to develop the habits that would help the whole family function better.

So, here we go!


Comfort Food

Do you see that stock? Look how thick with gelatin it is. My new goal is to ensure we all get some mineral rich, homemade stock at least 3 times a week. Daily would be best, but I might have to work up to that, it's about habit building. Baby steps you know.

There are so many good things about this homemade beef stock. It is rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and other trace minerals. It is a very cheap source of good nutrition and the minerals are much more bio-available than if we were getting them in a pill or supplement. And all that gelatin will help our hair and nails grow longer and stronger, not to mention keep our joints healthier. Glucosamine and chondroiton? It's there in the broth, tasty and easily absorbed. I am hoping that regular, frequent servings of broth will help alleviate the heel and joint pain that Mike and Sierra suffer from. Another reason to work up to daily doses.

I like to keep my stock fairly neutral in taste and then season according to its use. I always cook it with onion and garlic, and usually celery and carrots, but not much else. Then I can make a quick soup, gravy, or sauce. I can use it as the cooking liquid for my rice, or just pour a cupful. I've been busy dehydrating all the bits and pieces of produce that don't get used up, and I look forward to throwing a handful of dehydrated veggies and seasonings in a cup of hot broth - cup a soup! Healthy and quick. You can bag the the veggies you like in your soup together in individual or family size portions. You can even run them through the blender or food processor and turn it into a powder if you don't like chunks. Some good ones are carrots, tomatoes, celery, onions, garlic, greens, and herbs of various sorts.

I make about 3 gallons at a time and keep some in the freezer and some in the fridge, where it will last a couple of weeks.



15? Are You Sure??

It was my turn to spend the day with Hailey in honor of her birthday. 15! How well I remember rocking her to sleep singing 70's music. I painted her nursery 2 shades of purple with a Precious Moments border. I remember balling up newspaper and making it crinkle loudly to try to convince her to crawl across the floor. Tiny little girl toddling across the floor with her wispy blonde hair and pretty yellow dress. Walking at 9 months!

I thought we would never make it through her 2's. And her 3's. And her 4's. :-) Filling her baby sisters mouth with change. Painting the walls I had painstakingly stenciled, along with the clothes she pulled out of her dresser. And the carpet. Finding her on top of the fridge. More than once :-)

She has always had her own ideas. Always been a bit fearless. And now she is my right arm. She has the magic touch with the babies, she can calm them when no one else can. She loves music, the piano, her siblings, and God. She is sarcastic and funny, a singer, an artist, a great letter writer, and a fabulous baker. It is such a joy to see her growing in knowledge and righteousness. To see her grow in her faith and develop her own convictions. I am so blessed to be her mother.

Nana and Papa, along with Aunt Alice and Angie were able to join us for dinner, so that was a special treat. Sierra made her that hat, and Nana made the afgan. Love it! The scarf from Aunt Alice went perfectly with the hat :-)

And this is Sophia. Isn't she beautiful. Last time we saw her she had just broken 5 pounds. :-)


Ethan's big brother gifted him with some face paint, so now he fiercely blends into his surroundings. He shared his gift with his other brothers and they all had a grand time looking like warriors.

I wouldn't want to meet them in the woods, would you? :-)


Beachy Birthdays

So, it's only been a month since my last post. Hailey says I need to post more. She says I should post about all the things I'm always telling them, things I read, learn, and think. It just takes time to formulate all that into an intelligible post. And the time that I would be able to do that is at night. Which is when the baby is usually screaming. Or I am about to drop from exhaustion. Or both. So....it's been a month since my last post.

So, what's been going on? Well, Ethan had a birthday. So did Hailey. Heck, so did I :-) We went to Point Mugu for a few days in honor of Ethans and my birthdays. (Wow, that was an awkward sentence!) But we did, and we had a lovely time. Even if it was kind of cold and windy. I guess that's the price for a beautiful beach all to yourselves. If so, I'll gladly pay it. We intended to camp in the rv, but the day before we left we discovered that the fuel pump had quit pumpin. Bummer. We were able to salvage the trip with a couple of motel rooms on base, and we still had a grand time. I'd really like to go back in the rv though.

We got to see a whale right off shore, and a lot of seals. Which solidified Hailey's determination to never swim in the ocean, but was really cool to see.

We ate a lot, built sand castles, drew in our nature journals, climbed rocks, had races, and just generally enjoyed each other. On the last day we went in to Ventura and had an amaaazing lunch in a micro brewery. Really yummy!


Down South

At the end of September we went down to San Juan Capistrano to visit Lisa and Angie and meet tiny Sophia. She's beautiful, and I took one picture on my phone. Yes, I am ashamed. I hoped to take a few before we left, but we left pretty early and her momma wasn't into it. She had just hit 5 pounds.

Just as we pulled off the freeway in San Juan I got a text saying Tehachapi was on fire. Our town was threatened by several fires that were begun by lightening strikes. So, the whole first night was a game of "should I stay or should I go." There was a lot of conflicting information, and we just weren't sure what to do. But we stayed, and all was well. No homes were lost :-)

We did get to go to the beach in San Clemente while we were there. It was a lovely day, and we ladies sat with the baby under the boardwalk while the kids played in the water under daddy's supervision.

Except Hailey. She didn't even bring a suit because she's not going in the ocean. Ever. There's fish in there. And sharks. Lots and lots of sharks.

So, she did this.
Listened to music while walking in circles under the boardwalk. Sometimes with Audreyanna, sometimes without.

Annaleise could not believe the bounty, rocks EVERYWHERE!! Pockets full of them!

But eventually she suited up and headed to the water with everyone else. It didn't last long though. Ty headed out a little too deep and a wave crashed over him and swept him out. Daddy had Annaleise in his arms and plopped her down to chase after Ty. Where another wave came and swept her out too. After getting the both safely on shore daddy decided two littles was a bit too much for him, and Annaleise was over it anyway. So, she came back to the boardwalk and played with rocks.
Everyone else had a grand time playing in the water though. Worked up quite and appetite for the great cheeseburgers we had later. And the ice cream...

The next day we headed out and stopped at the L.A. Zoo. But it was really hot and we didn't stay too long. Season tickets make that alright :-)

Don't they look hot? We left and went to Ruby's, where we had REALLY amazing cheeseburgers, lol.


We all enjoyed having Chance here for his entirely too short visit. We miss him so, and little snatches of time are all we get, but we sure love it when he comes! The kids all counted down the time until he arrived and we all headed to the airport to get him. Hailey thought she would miss it because she has a regular baby-sitting job that night, but that family had strep so she got to come along.

We had an amazing Italian dinner in Bakersfield before we headed home. He was pretty busy the first day and we all waited impatiently for him to be free. But it was nice just to see him sitting at the table. I so wish we were all still together.

On Saturday we went to Victorville to see Kirstyn and Cadence and get a tour of their new house. It's so nice to have all the kids together.

Chance got to meet the neighbors because they kept kicking Cadence's ball over the fence. Which he broke. The fence that is. On one of his trips over he took the top cap with him, and left a generous portion of flesh behind in return.

Cadence thinks I'm the crazy lady with a camera who's always chasing her around. She keeps her distance until the camera goes away :-) She is loving preschool and was happy to show us all the things she has made. She's almost 3, can you believe it?!

Audreyanna enjoyed rolling around on the floor, and the littles did their best to keep her entertained. Don't you just want to scoop her up and kiss her?!

And finally, we needed a group shot. We tried to build a poor mans tripod out of drinking glasses and boxes, but decided their wasn't enough room for my lens to get everyone in, so we headed outside and propped the camera on a ladder. We're all in though!

And in the morning, he was gone! Can't wait to see you again, Chance :-)


What's Goin On

We've been busy around here between school, baby. and trying to get a bit healthier in the kitchen. Last Saturday, before leaving for my in-laws 50th anniversary party, Sierra and I made 2 gallons of lacto-fermented pickles. The old fashioned kind, preserved with whey instead of vinegar and heat. It's a process that makes food even more nourishing and digestible.

See those little valves on 2 of the jars? This is the first time I have used them, but they seem pretty cool. The let the fermenting air out while keeping out the bacteria. I forgot to fill them with water the first couple of days, so I got a little mold. But you can just scrape it off, because it's totally harmless.

I also made a really yummy no-grain breakfast cereal. It's
  • 2/3c buckwheat groats
  • 1/3c hempseed
  • 1/2c chia
  • 1c dehydrated peaches
  • 1c chopped pecans
  • 1tsp salt
  • 4TBS sucanat
  • 1TBS cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla powder
  • You can use any kind of dried fruit and any kind of nuts. Vanilla powder is optional.
I put 4 TBS in a bowl with some milk and I really enjoy it.

I have sourdough starter fermenting on my counter and I'm also trying a method where you keep a large amount of starter in the fridge and pull chunks off to bake with. I have a loaf of bread baking in the oven right now using that method. We'll see how it turns out.

On Monday I made sourdough english muffins and they were great. Even the kids thought so.

The bread is out of the oven and the kids cut it up before I could take a picture :-) The verdict: It's amazing? Hailey says it's the best bread ever and Sierra wants it for her birthday. And it was sooo fast and easy.

I have peaches coming this weekend and lots of plans for those, and more cucumbers too, because I'd like to try a few different recipes. I'm anxious to see if these are crispy, I put oak leaves from our very sad oak trees in the jars. That's supposed to be the trick. I'll let you know.

Updated to add: Mom, Hailey says the bread is only slightly better than the lemon cake :-)


Just a Quick Update

Well, summer finally arrived and now we can't remember ever having been cold. Because we're fickle like that.

So, what have we been doing? Well, we finally got a bit of a garden in. Yep, after years of intentions (you know where those lead) we finally put something in the ground. Or, the box rather. We made a raised square foot bed where we planted tomatoes, bell peppers, watermelon, cucumbers and bush beans. 16 in all, and they seem to be doing wonderfully so far. Which means that the birds and bugs will likely enjoy a lovely feast the day before we intend to pick them. Hailey and I trellised the tall things a couple of days ago. Note to self: do it a lot earlier next year. But this is our LEARNING GARDEN, as we keep reminding ourselves. We didn't plant much and we are trying to keep it alive. We netted the berries to keep birds out, since they ate ALL the berries last year. Hopefully we get a few this year. Oh yeah, we have 2 strawberry plants too. After a dismal start they are looking good. We also have a few raspberry and blackberry vines. The peaches and plums bloomed too early and that June snow killed the buds, so they won't fruit this year.

Learning to make compost too. Seems like it should be so easy. I think I'm thinking about it too much. I think...

The big girls worked a vendor booth during the 3 day Independence Day celebration as a fund raiser for Bible Bee. Good reports on their work ethic and skill, so that's encouraging. They had a good time, but it was HOT.

Audreyanna is growing like a weed, time to pack up those 0-3 months clothes and buy some more 3-6, because she's about 14 pounds now.

We're mostly just hanging out, enjoying each other and laughing at the littles. School is in session after a break for baby and that takes a fair amount of time. Planning for next year, ordering books, marveling at how fast the money goes and how big the kids are all getting. You know, the regular stuff.

I think my adrenals are getting serious about their warning signals and we are trying to get back into fermenting veggies and such. Going to teach Sierra to make yogurt this afternoon, and ordering another kombucha mushroom tomorrow. I really want to try coconut keifer, but I had such horrible luck with dairy keifer and I love coconut water so much that I am having a hard time convincing myself to do it. Wish I could try it first.


Annaleise as Art



9 and 2, I can hardly believe it! How can the years go so quickly?

Eli has really found a love for reading this year, surpassed only by his love of audiobooks. He will often ask to go to be early to listen to a book on the ipod, or he can be found hiding on the side of the couch reading. He's got that goofy boy humor that brings me right back to 9 year-old Chance. I am so blessed to be his mom, and can't wait to see what God does in his life.

Banonna is our sweet cuddlebug. She is way to cute for her own good, and if we're not careful we'll ruin her completely! She is never happier than when she is snuggled into a lap with her thumb in her mouth and your hair in her hand. She is so gentle and sweet with Audreyanna, and loves her own babies as well. We love you Annaleise, you bring such joy to our lives!

We celebrated the birthdays of Eli and Annaleise with the standard Mimi's breakfast. But this time was likely the last, as one horrible experience is usually all my husband will tolerate. The meal was free, so there is that. The gas wasn't, so there is that.
The day was pretty low-key because Mike was coming off the flu and I'm not really running at full speed yet. Tin Tin and the T-Rex kite were big hits with Eli, and I think Annaleise loves her doll buggy. She'll love it more if we can make the handle stay on :-)

She couldn't quite figure out the whole blowing thing, we eventually got them out though.



Audreyanna Brielle Elliott
Born May 11, 2011
12:34 am
10lbs 8 oz
22in long
15" head (I KNOW!)