Brennan’s birthday

My raspberry girl turned SIX on Friday!


helena the owl

So. I made an owl for Annie for Christmas.



I, um, cheated.

I looked at a felt puppet tutorial and decided there was no freaking way I could make such tidy and adorable puppets. But I couldn’t get it off my mind!

So I started looking at types of felt. After six (seven?) months of “I’m just not going to…” I bought two rolls of thick felt and grabbed a few pieces of craft felt and some embroidery floss that didn’t match ANY of the felt (contrast!).

I looked at a few more owl toy pictures, then I freehandedly chopped up the felt. And I do mean chopped.


And then I started stitching. I can’t actually blanket stitch so I cheated there, too. HA!









She took about 5 hours of actual work, spread across three days. Then I had to wait a whole day to see if Annie even liked her. BUT SHE WAS SO PLEASED. She squeezed her and used her as a pillow and scooted around with her… whew. Winning!


girl trip

Annie, Brennan, and I went with my mother, grandmother, aunt, and cousin to the beach for a few days. The point was to spend time together, and to see some of Granny’s family. The weather was not awesome for a super wonderful beach trip, BUT we did get to spend time in the sun, and the gulf was lovely, and overall I rate it a great time. The photos I’m posting are in reverse order… and I’m going to leave them that way.

iphone20140329_163 iphone20140329_161iphone20140328_153(somebody didn’t want to sit in a chair, so somebody was in the floor, ALL THE WAY IN THE FLOOR, watching a fish tank and chatting with people who came up the stairs. and I just let her be that way. because. the beach.)iphone20140327_138 (not asleep. not at all asleep. not hardly. but cuddling and playing and precious.)iphone20140327_130 iphone20140327_128 iphone20140327_118 (the balcony was HUGE, and brennan loved watching the big water. just from the safety of the 9th story, though. the actual big water was a no-go.)iphone20140327_116 iphone20140327_113(we didn’t want to wake the goose enough to actually dress her when we first got in the car – it was crazy o’clock – so she ended up in a tee, sweatshirt, and leggings. and at some point she spilled something all down her leggings, so by the time we got to the beach, she was without pants. fine. at least she was duck-facing for the camera, right?!?)


those crazy kids

I took some “real camera” pictures of Brennan on her birthday. I didn’t like them. They didn’t say “Brennan” when I looked back through them. Today, however, the goose was stomping on the play table in a crazy outfit… the light was pretty good… we tried again.

And these I like much, much better.

I also got picures of the rest of the kids. Sorry for the photo overload, but when you have four kids, it’s hard to NOT have rather a lot.

She’s eating a Wint-o-Green Lifesaver.

And she picked out her outfit today. By telling me “Nope. Nope. [thoughtful pause] NO-EEE. Nope. *gasp* YES!” while we went through what seemed like every article of clothing she has. Which is silly. Because 2/3 of it is in the laundry. Dirty.

And, this is Annie’s sweater.

DespicableMe 2 game.

Lost tooth.

HELP MEEE withaproject

I’m pulling together a BIG collage of pictures of our family, and I want to put Bible verses and quotes and phrases on it. I don’t really even know what to say I’m trying to do or what I want, but I’m wondering if any of you have anything you think should be included. I have three options for how to do this; what I do will depend on what all I can come up with in the next couple of weeks.

My deadline for finalizing the project is February 15th; the large prints are 40% until then. If you have an idea – or if you want me to help work on something like this for YOUR family – let me know!

The prints on sale start at 16×16 (and get bigger) and I would charge about $20 (for 16×16; and increase accordingly for print cost). That’s for metallic photo print, with direct-to-you shipping and a $5 processing fee; additional copies would be exact print cost.

Grace Bright as the Sea

I’m working on typing up and organizing what went on with annbebe’s birth and our time in the hospital, but I wanted to go ahead (almost 2 weeks later, haha) and share some of my favorite pictures from those first few days.

Our second daughter was pulled into the world feet first (for seriously) at about 7:11 in the morning on Friday, October 4th. She was 8 pounds, 5 ounces, 20 inches long, and absolutely roared – to the overwhelming approval of everybody except me (I told her from the operating table that she’d better get that mess out of her system before we got home) and Dr McKee, who was very quick to point out that with a fourth baby, crying big is not as cutesy as it is with a first baby. We ALL agreed that the wailing was good for her lungs.


We had spent rather a lot of time expressing frustration over not being SURE what time to tell family to get to the hospital. We had settled on 9am for my family, and about 10:30 or so for Jona’s parents and the kids. Because of the way the nurses and the anesthesiology assistant needed to watch both of us, that timing turned out to be perfect. Ann was a couple of ounces over anticipated weight for due date (they had it listed wrong, but she would have hit right on it and been watched anyway if they had it right), so she had a heel prick every 15 minutes for a while. She breathed a bit fast so I couldn’t feed her immediately, but between check-ups they tucked her under my gown so we had skin-to-skin time. When she did get to eat, she latched on perfectly and nursed VERY WELL. By 9am, the check-ups were spreading out and she was ready to play musical cuddly-ways, haha.

By the time the big kids arrived, we were good for Quinn to come in, check her out, and help with her. He said the crazy heater bed was TOO hot, so he spent as much time checking on ME as he did her. (unclecary took the next few pictures)


Ann didn’t super love being checked on, so she roared rather a lot. I think because it wasn’t a super pitiful cry, Aiden got a big kick out of it. He verified that she was OUR baby, then was more worried about his granma forgetting him than what the baby was doing.


Brennan did NOT love the wailing. She was just not okay with it. She climbed up on the bed and sat so very quietly against me, and let me hold her and pet her hair and kiss her and whisper to her… normally she has to be very sleepy for cuddles like that, but there was so much going on on the other side of the room, she liked the calm. She also liked my little cup of water, and would beg for a sip. We just spilled some of it three different times, that’s all.


I have to admit that the type of pain I feared was not a real issue. I had more trouble dealing with gas (just keeping it real) and muscle soreness and SEVERE weakness than with the actual incision site – although it took well into the afternoon on Saturday before I could distinguish what was going on. At one point, I was in so much pain that when I called about pain medicine and got told I would need to wait a few more minutes, I broke down and sobbed.

Which just made it worse.

We were blessed to have the same nurse for part of the afternoon on Friday, and all day Saturday and Sunday. She couldn’t give me the medicine I wanted, but she sure did get me an ice pack and a dose of simethicone and gave me my acetaminophen a few minutes early and went ahead and gave me a flu shot and generally worked really hard for half an hour to distract me.

It worked, and I took this picture to remember that sometimes, you just have to do crazy things to feel okay. I had the bed set at crazy angles to relieve pressure, was using the Boppy pillow, two normal pillows, and a folded sheet/blanket set to prop just right. The ice pack really did help. And Ann was a sport the whole time, even when I was crying on her.


Speaking of good sports, my husband is awesome. Okay, there were a few times I wanted to throttle him. But he changed most of the diapers (I helped with one. It was the 13th before I could move right to deal with diapers; I couldn’t breathe or pick her up by the time I was finished) and tried to really swaddle Ann and had crappy Splenda tea from Newk’s… He told me that with the other babies he felt like even in the hospital I could handle caring for them without him most of the time, but this time he felt like he was really DOING something to help. (Which is crazy talk; he’s always helped BIG, from the very start with Quinn.)

I snapped this picture after he waxed Puddleglum-ly about how Ann didn’t like him. I had to launch into a rant to keep from laughing – it really hurt to laugh!! Does that look like a baby who dislikes her cuddler?!?!?



We knew on Friday that we’d have to stay until after Ann could have an ultrasound on her hips. They could tell one was clicking, and since she was breech there was a solid chance of her having some level of hip dysplasia. Everyone who mentioned it shrugged it off, until an hour after she came back from the ultrasound. THEN we got told the radiologist didn’t like what was going on, and we were referred to an orthopedic specialist. And we needed to wait for her to come by. Which meant we needed to not leave.

Which concerned me rather a lot.

We didn’t know if we’d be waiting for 30 minutes or for HOURS. Thankfully, God gives us what we need to do what He wants done, and the doctor had a cancellation and came over fairly quickly. She talked to us (Mom and me – J had taken the big kids home to our house and Mom stayed with me and Ann) about hip dysplasia, explained that Ann’s was NOT a big deal but that she would benefit from treatment, strapped her into a harness to keep her legs froggy (to keep pressure at the right place in the joint to basically let the ball wallow out the cartilage some more)… She actually SAT AND TALKED. It was comforting. I felt better! Until she left, and we needed to change a diaper, and I was trying to strap AnnieMer back in and she was screaming because she was ready to eat and we were shoving her around… then I almost lost it.

Then a precious elderly female chaplain came in and wanted to let us know that they had been praying for us, and wanted to know if she could bless the baby. She prayed and I cried and cried and cried…

God knows what we need.


We go back for another ultrasound on November 1st. I’m hoping we’ll be finished with the harness, but I want her hip right more than I want cuddles that are more cuddly, so…. I doubt we’ll be finished. But we’ll see. (She’ll have check-ups periodically no matter what.)

Well, finally we were able to leave, and we totally got annbebe dressed and LEFT. Maybe it won’t take two more weeks for me to post more pictures, and tell about some of our adventures at home.


i tie-dyed t-shirts

It’s okay, annbebe can be born now: I’ve tie-dyed t-shirts to wear while we’re still at the hospital (and for the next 50 years or until they fall totally apart, whatever).

No, no, wait.

Before annbebe can be born, her lungs need to be developed and she needs to be tunky enough to not need unusual assistance holding some body heat.

Whew, I’m not TOTALLY selfish as an expectant mother!

Tie dye. T-shirts. That happened today, in my kitchen.

I got it in my head that what I NEEEEED to wear at the hospital after annbebe’s born is a tank top under a huge, soft t-shirt, with leggings. I’ll be comfortable (we already know from my Instagram feed that I’ve been testing my theory, ha) and it’ll be easy to nurse and … well, that’s all I had when I got the idea, and that’s still where I am, weeks later.

I bought some white XXL men’s v-neck underwear tees and then decided that white, on me, might not be the best choice (hello, clutz)… So I decided to tie dye the tees. Because I’ve wanted to tie-dye something for about 2 years now, and WHY NOT NOW?!?

I read about using food coloring – it’s not colorfast in cotton, but whatever. I didn’t want the shirts to be crazy bold, so faded out would be fine. If it’ll last through a wash, I just need to wear it once sat the hospital, right?

I tested one tee and it was BEAUTIFUL! The colors were exactly what I wanted and the mess was surprisingly minimal and HOORAY. Until it went in the washing machine ONE TIME. Then it came so clean that except for one tiny smudge, I couldn’t tell it from the white tees.


All those people saying to not bother were NOT exaggerating.

Lesson learned.

I got a huge pack of tie dye packets and bottles when I went grocery shopping with Mimsy this morning. It included instructions for shaping/tying the cloth for different styles. The color is a powder that you shake into the bottles, add water, and use within 45 minutes (or it won’t work, is what the instructions said). I didn’t use the entire packet of any color, even with refilling the bottles and trying to mix different shades.

I didn’t take pictures because I was afraid I would not concentrate on the process if I was busy grabbing my phone every step. I tried to be very methodical. I threw the tees in the washer on the rinse cycle (once it was full, I shifted it to spin and drain so I didn’t have to wait so long) so they’d be damp but not dripping wet. While I waited, I put the powder in the bottles (again, just a little) and made sure nothing important was near my kitchen sink, and I spread an old towel on the counter. I collected saran wrap (to cover the shirts so they wouldn’t touch each other and bleed, or dry out) and gallon sealable bags (to stick them in during the 6-8 hour color-set wait… I waited about 4.5 hours), yarn and rubber bands (to tie the shirts).

When the washer stopped, I grabbed the shirts out one at a time and decided how to tie them up. Then I tossed them in a pile on the counter. I added water to the dye bottles, prepped a measuring cup of clear water justincase, and took a deep breath!

It was really not bad at all. The kit came with gloves, but I wasn’t getting them rinsed off between colors so I abandoned them. I would slowly squirt the dye on the shirt and then sort of poke at it and flip it over (careful to match the shirt with the color pools when I would sit it back down) and squirt some more dye. When I was satisfied, I’d wrap it in a couple of layers of plastic wrap and dump it in a gallon bag (I had five shirts; three went in one bag and two in another). I rinsed out the sink (and rinsed off the bottles) between each shirt, and rinsed my hands about 70 times (not really, but it felt that way).


Once all the shirts were done, I had to straighten up the powder packet mess (I taped the corners that I had snipped to open them, and put them in a sandwich baggie to finish later. I doubt I used a quarter of the dye – some colors way more than others, but a lot of packets i didn’t even mess with).

You’re supposed to wait 6-8 hours (or even longer) before you rinse the dye and wash the fabric. But. Yeah. Right. I think I waited 4 hours to rinse the first one, liked how it had done, felt like it was still a little bold for what I wanted, and decided a double wash would take care of that. I rinsed each shirt individually (started with them still tied, then cut off the bands or yarn and kept rinsing until I was tired of it), and spread them between layers of old towel so they didn’t bleed all over each other before I could get them into the washer.

I washed them as a large load (my washer does small, large, and super) in hot water with a little bit of detergent and did a second rinse, then added dark towels and the old ones that already had been dyed and washed the load as usual. While I transferred the load to the dryer, I spread the shirts in the floor for a picture. When they dried they were a little lighter/ more faded, which made them perfect.

Jonathan doubted my ability (out loud, which was not cool) and then almost freaked out when he didn’t see the wet shirts anywhere… I told him I had put them in a pile with all his favorite clothes and he calmed down. Sarcasm works, people. Then I showed him the bagged shirts. He was not very impressed until they were dry. Now he wants one.

Imagine that.


be light


I posted this image (without text) to Instagram before the kids went to bed. They were being wild, and when I looked around for something to attach the wild story to, this is what I saw. I was so glad it saved out of focus… it’s just been hard to focus lately.

There’s so much going on – changing pregnant body, growing annbebe, school work, older kids who are growing too fast, plans to add a bedroom to TheBarn, LIFE HAPPENING. I have intentionally narrowed (even further) my field of focus. It’s still difficult.

I went to bed over an hour ago. I was elated that everykid was in bed and quiet. I nestled down – was ACTUALLY COMFORTABLE – and began to drift off to sleep. And something pulled me back to that unpleasant place where asleep meets awake, and suddenly the wheels on the bus of your mind are going round and round, and you’re not drifting back to sleep. Fifteen minutes of rest, in the dark and the quiet and comfortable, and my body and my brain said, “GREAT. Go do something. Something gooooooooood.”

LUCKILY, I had the presence of mind to read some in Romans. I wasn’t reading intently. I wasn’t reading awesomely. But I was reading, and phrases jumped out at me that make me decide to make something lovely and encouraging. I got out of bed (with my phone), grabbed the laptop (oh, technology), and plopped down on the couch. I pulled up this picture. Then I stalled. What to have it say, oh, whatwhatwhat???

Enter the search function on the ESV Bible app. Light. Reject lightning, lightness, whatever is in that verse later that makes it show up in a list for “light” – and finally I noticed Job 33:30. I backed up and backed up some more and backed up SOME MORE and decided to just paraphrase verse 30. But I think you should read all of chapter 33. It will probably help your heart. It helped mine, and i just scanned it. BACKWARDS. So. I should probably go read it again, and see how God can help me be lighted with the light of life instead of blackened with the grime from the pit of death.