Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Look what we woke up to this morning! It was a rough night...we had bad storms and the weather radio went off about 12 times. There were tornado watches (and even a warning!) all around us but thankfully we "only" had thunderstorm warnings for this area. The creek behind the house flooded its banks and TWO big trees fell down across our driveway. The kids had a ball climbing on the downed just to figure out a way to get them out of our driveway!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The other day we went on our annual pilgrimage for a tree. Growing up I was very against using real trees for our holiday tree. I felt that it was wrong to take the life of a tree for our own superficial pleasure and then just discard it when we were finished. Then a few years ago I read about the impact of artificial trees on our environment. Now it seems so obvious but until I started reading more about it, it had never occurred to me.
Here are some things to think about:

  • Real trees are a renewable, recyclable resource.
  • Growing Christmas trees provide a habitat for wildlife.
  • There are many ways to recycle a real tree. It can be put into a wood chipper and used as mulch, playground material, etc.
  • Or you can do as we do and put it back onto the land from which it came to be used as a wildlife habitat. We have certified our yard as a Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat ( so putting our used tree back out into nature is a wonderful way to create more spaces for wildlife.
  • If you choose to buy from a tree farm rather than finding a tree yourself, you are usually supporting a local, family owned business.
  • Real trees provide oxygen and help rid the environment of carbon dioxide.
  • For every tree cut down on a tree farm, up to three seedlings are planted to replace it.
Now some facts about artificial trees:
  • Artificial trees - which most people keep for only six years – remain in landfill sites for centuries. Artificial trees are made from non-renewable plastics, PVC and other petroleum based products.
  • For every real tree cut down, up to three seedlings are planted to ensure a steady supply each year.
  • Artificial trees were recently added to the Center of Health, Environment & Justice’s list of household products containing PVC.
  • 85% of the artificial Christmas trees sold in the U. S. come from China.
  • Upon their disposal, artificial Christmas trees pollute our landfill sites for centuries to come as they are not biodegradable and cannot be broken down naturally.

So with all of that in mind, we have started cutting down a tree from our property each year. It is a fun family event with us all going out for a walk to search for the perfect tree. Last year we greatly overestimated the size of our home and ended up getting a tree more fit for a theater with thirty foot celeings! The trees look so much smaller in the field than in the house. This year we did a bit better and only a bit had to be trimmed off.

We found the perfect tree in the thicket beside the house. We all thanked the tree for giving its life to be our holiday tree and then daddy cut it down and brought it to the house where we decorated it together. No photos of us decorating it as the camera battery went dead, but I have some good ones of us finding the tree.

We have started another tradition that each child gets to open an early present on the day we put up the tree (I try to find reasons to give early presents because I feel that getting so many on one day is pretty overwhelming). Natalie was upset that we were "taking so long" to find the tree because she wanted to go open her present. That is why she looks so angry in the photos!

Finding the tree

The family standing in front of the tree (Natalie mad)

Zoe is four months old!

I cannot believe how quickly she is growing up! She is close to sitting up on her own. She weighs 15lbs 12oz now. She is reaching for toys (and they go right into her mouth). She is very social and happy. She is ready with a big smile anytime you look her way.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Zoe is three months old!

I am late with her three month photos but to make up for it, I have included a video! I finally figured out how to work the video feature on my camera. Yes, she is crying. No, I don't think it's cute to watch babies cry. But it was the first time I used the video feature and I was just trying to see if it worked. Unfortunately, that is how I got her. I promise better ones soon!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Samhain!

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.

Samhain (pronounced sow-in) marks one of the two great doorways of the Celtic year, for the Celts divided the year into two seasons: the light and the dark, at Beltane on May 1st and Samhain on November 1st. Some believe that Samhain was the more important festival, marking the beginning of a whole new cycle. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death.

Samhain literally means “summer's end.” With the rise of Christianity, Samhain was changed to Hallowmas, or All Saints' Day, to commemorate the souls of the blessed dead who had been canonized that year, so the night before became popularly known as Halloween, All Hallows Eve, or Hollantide. November 2nd became All Souls Day, when prayers were to be offered to the souls of all who the departed and those who were waiting in Purgatory for entry into Heaven.

In the country year, Samhain marked the first day of winter, when the herders led the cattle and sheep down from their summer hillside pastures to the shelter of stable. The hay that would feed them during the winter must be stored in sturdy thatched ricks, tied down securely against storms. Those destined for the table were slaughtered, after being ritually devoted to the gods in pagan times.

All the harvest must be gathered in -- barley, oats, wheat, turnips, and apples -- for come November, the faeries would blast every growing plant with their breath, blighting any nuts and berries remaining on the hedgerows.

Peat and wood for winter fires were stacked high by the hearth. It was a joyous time of family reunion, when all members of the household worked together baking, salting meat, and making preserves for the winter feasts to come. The endless horizons of summer gave way to a warm, dim and often smoky room; the symphony of summer sounds was replaced by a counterpoint of voices, young and old, human and animal.

In early Ireland, people gathered at the ritual centers of the tribes, for Samhain was the principal calendar feast of the year. In every household throughout the country, hearth-fires were extinguished. All waited for the Druids to light the new fire of the year.

At at all the turning points of the Celtic year, the gods drew near to Earth at Samhain, so many sacrifices and gifts were offered up in thanksgiving for the harvest. Personal prayers in the form of objects symbolizing the wishes of supplicants or ailments to be healed were cast into the fire, and at the end of the ceremonies, brands were lit from the great fire of Tara to re-kindle all the home fires of the tribe, as at Beltane. As they received the flame that marked this time of beginnings, people surely felt a sense of the kindling of new dreams, projects and hopes for the year to come.

Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

The night of October 31st, is known today of course, as Halloween.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Photos

It is our tradition to go Trick-or-Treating with our best friends, the Corder Family. This year Eliza was a maiden, Ben a monk, Elias a ninja, Pearl and Natalie princesses, Nika a pirate and Zoe a princess.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I've got lots of new photos to share!

First I will tell you the story of the pumpkin. We went to the Corn Maze a few weeks ago (the one mentioned below...the one where I forgot to take my camera!! Grrr) and bought a pumpkin.

We finally got around to carving it tonight. Ben had been really looking forward to it and was so proud of it when we finished. He took it out to the porch and then came in with me to get a candle and some matches.
When we went back out, Natalie was standing on the porch and the pumpkin was laying, in pieces, on the ground.

She admitted to pushing it off on purpose but I can't understand what she is trying to tell me as to WHY she pushed it off. I don't think she realized what the consequences would be (a smashed pumpkin) but I was still pretty upset and Ben was devastated. She went and sat on the bed and cried while Ben and I tried to put the pieces back together. After a while she came out, and on her own, told me "I am so sorry mama". It made Ben feel better that she apologized (and that he was getting my pity and attention!). We decided that we will get another pumpkin to carve and that the next time she won't push him to his death off the side of the porch!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
Mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
Mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can
Disappoint another
to be true to yourself.

If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.

If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
Even when it is not pretty
every day.

And if you can source your own life
From its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
Yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up
After the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand
in the center of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.

I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Zoe is two months old!

I can't believe that month two is already here! Zoe has ballooned up just like her brother and sister did. She is a whopping 13 pounds. She loves to be talked to and will reward you with a coo and a big smile.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Zoe is a month old!

It is hard to belive that she has already been here for a month! Here are some new photos of her, Princess Natalie and Ben. :)

Ben's very first "all by himself" diaper change! Yes, it is a disposable diaper. I haven't found a cloth system that works at night so we are doing cloth during the day and sposies at night...for now. If anyone knows a good night time diapering system I would love to hear about it! :)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Things are going well with our new family. Zoe will be a month old in four days!

I am actually a bit paranoid...kind of waiting for the bottom to fall out from under us. I have always heard that going from one child to two is life altering but any kids after the second one the baby just kind of fits into your life. So far that has been true for us.

I remember that after Natalie was born I had to rely heavily on my mom (thank goodness for her). So she and I planned in advance for this one. We purchased convenience foods and easy breakfast foods (neither of which we usually have in our home) in anticipation of me sending the kids up to eat with her every morning. I tried to prepare myself for the hormonal, emotional upheaval that was "sure" to come. We delayed starting our homeschooling although the public schools had already started.

But we have all done amazingly well. I am not saying this to brag...I don't really hold any of the is just something that has happened. I have been getting up at our regular time (around 6:30-7:00), cooking the kid's breakfast, doing school, etc. I also haven't experienced any of the emotional ups and downs that I expected. I've even managed to keep my house clean and to stay on top of the dishes - despite the lack of a dishwasher (until tax refund season!). So it's almost like things are going a little too well, hence the whole "waiting for the bottom to drop out" feeling.

The kids have been amazing with Zoe. Neither have really shown jealously. Natalie sometimes wants to lay on my arm when I am nursing Zoe and gets upset that I can't somehow manage to do both but for the most part they are very protective and loving in regards to her. They have both admonished me when I have had to use the bulb syringe to suction her nose so that she could breathe in order to nurse. I hate doing it but sometimes it is necessary...I don't think Ben and Natalie agree. Natalie has even gone as far as to put her hand over Zoe's nose and order me to stop!

As with when Natalie was a baby, I again have a low milk supply due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). We are having to supplement with formula but there is no way we are giving up nursing. Natalie nursed for 2 1/2 years and I hope that Zoe does for at least that long.

Zoe has been diagnosed as being tongue tied. This is leading to even more problems breastfeeding when combined with my already low supply. We are having a very hard time finding someone who is willing to do a frenetomy (clip the frendelum under her tongue so as to release her tongue and enable her to latch on properly). I'm not going to go into details because they are long and I will just end up getting pissed off all over again. Hopefully I have found someone who can help (at the recommendation of the lactation consultant at the center where she was born) and I will be calling them first thing Tuesday morning.

As for other important news in our family, my first baby turned seven years old on the 26th of August! I cannot believe that he has grown up so fast. He and I made a monster truck cake for his birthday. We also made a crown for the birthday boy to wear and will be storing it in a safe place so that everyone else in the family can wear it on their special day as well.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Zoe is here!


Zoe Soleil Rain

Born August 4, 2008

Weighing 7lbs 15oz and 20" long

Friday, June 27, 2008

Just wanted to pop in and add some new photos. The kids and I went to a local park with our friends this past Tuesday. They had a ball climbing a tree with low lying branches.

Natalie and her daddy

Ben reading, I love this photo!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Photos of the baby!

I had an appointment with my midwife today. I asked her to see if she could feel to see if she could tell which position the baby is in. I have been feeling kicks in strange places and thought that she might be breech (she isn't though, whew!). She smiled and said "Let's just go do an ultrasound". She ended up doing a 3D and got some wonderful shots of the baby. She has her arm and hand up by her face in the first one. She is pooching her little lips out in the second one. Everything looked to be ok!

Monday, June 2, 2008

I apologize for waiting so long between updates. Life has been very busy. Tonight (if we don't get rained out) is Ben's final baseball game. Tuesday is Natalie's. Then things should calm down a bit. I am in my 32nd week of pregnancy...only eight more weeks to go!
I am including some of the latest photos of the kids. The first few are of our ill fated camping trip. It never occured to me that it might not be the best idea in the world to go camping when one is 7 1/2 months pregnant! We ended up coming home a day early but I think the kids had a good time while we were there. Natalie made a friend (the doggie) and we saw lots of cool bugs, frogs, etc.

We also made a visit to the Chattanooga Market. It is a farmer's Market in the downtown area that features handmade crafts, herbs, food, etc. Ben rode some type of scrambling machine and loved it.

This is a photo of the kids in their "restaurant". Ben takes all of the tables, trays and chairs in the house and makes a "fancy restaurant" where we eat our meals for a few days before putting the house back to normal.

We found a battery operated Volkswagon Beetle at a thrift store for a steal (normally over $200. and we got it for $10.). She is so very proud of it.

Last but not least...we found a Slip 'n Slide at a discount outlet for $2.00! The kids LOVE it and they even got their daddy on it. They had a blast.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sorry for the delay in an update. We went on vacation during the first part of this month. We were in Charleston, SC for a few days and then over to Myrtle Beach for a few days to see my bestest friend Jeffery and his partner Brett...and to also meet my friend Christa whom I have only been able to talk to online before then. Despite it being rainy and cold, we had a really good time and brought home some great memories. Here are a few photos from the trip.

The kids at Fort Sumter in Charleston.

The kids on the Hard Rock Cafe motorcycle in Myrtle Beach

Walking down to the beach in front of our hotel in Myrtle Beach

Playing on the beach in Myrtle Beach

Jeff and I

Belly shot on the beach

Jeff, Brett and I

Christa, Jeff and I

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Incline Railway...

We went on a homeschool co-op field trip yesterday to the Incline Railway in Chattanooga. I was terrified and didn't want to go but Ben promised to hold my hand. :) It turned out to be a wonderful trip. I actually enjoyed myself. After hearing the tram man explain the safety features, I was able to relax and enjoy my ride.
This is a photo taken from the bottom of the track. You can see how steep the grade is when you get close to the top of the mountain! Below it you see a photo taken from the top of the mountain as one of the cars is descending. Then a photo from the inside of the car as we were going down. Try to notice how you can see the valley at the bottom out of the top of the car. That is because we are almost at a vertical position. They designed the car so that you don't feel it as much. The car actually sits at an angle.
Here is a photo of Ben looking through the view meter at the top of the mountain. He kept pointing out all of the things he could see. He saw some "red big trucks" on the Interstate and was very excited about that! Then a photo of my tired kids (and my cranky daughter) on the ride down.

Some interesting facts about the Incline Railway from their official site:
"Following the Civil War, development on Lookout Mountain was minimal. The four-hour trip up Whiteside Pike, a toll road, discouraged many people, and the two-dollar toll discouraged the rest. However, many people were interested in visiting the peak, in part due to the romanticized "Battle Above the Clouds" that occurred on the mountain during The Civil War.

During the railroad boom of the 1880's, speculators decided to develop a hotel on the mountaintop serviced by a narrow gauge railroad that would run up the mountain. A second, broad-gauge line and an earlier incline were also competing for passengers.

On November 16, 1895 the railroad known today simply as "The Incline" opened, rising up the steepest part of Lookout Mountain. Built by John Crass and the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway Company this technical marvel boasted an incline of 72.7% at one point, making it the steepest passenger Incline in the world. Literally millions of residents and tourists have taken this ride up to the top of Lookout Mountain. By 1900 the success of this railway closed down all of its competitors.

Originally the cars were made of wood and powered by huge coal-burning steam engines. Electric power was used after 1911, and it now uses two 100 horsepower motors.