Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Day in the Life

Today was our first "back to reality" day after our vacation.  We got home Friday, but took it easy Friday and Saturday.  Sunday was the normal day of church and resting. Monday morning was my MUMS group meeting and Catherine had a well appointment in the afternoon.  After her appointment I ended up getting groceries before coming home.  Monday was also my day to work in the office, so once I was home I holed up there for the tiny bit of time left in the day. I didn't even put away the non-cold groceries.

As such, this is how my kitchen greeted me this morning:

The morning got off to a bit of a rocky start and a lot later than I wanted, but eventually the ball started rolling instead of skidding.

Susannah did her piano practice, Charity unloaded the dishwasher and Sylvia had free time.  After that, Susannah and Sylvia started their school-work for today.  It's a challenge to get back into the discipline of staying focused and actually doing the work, but we managed.

While the girls did school I started cleaning up the kitchen.  I started with the groceries because I was stepping around them to do anything. Plus Silas was wanting to open all the packages, and managed to open the lid AND the pull-tab inner lid of a can of peanuts!

There was plenty of helping people with various needs mixed in every other minute or two. It seems to take forever to do a single task right now in life!

Finally the groceries were away and Silas stayed busy for a bit "fixing" the kitchen door.  He uses an old mixer attachment thing (that I no longer have the motor for) as a "screwdriver," and tinkers on the screws of the door.  At one point he was outside fixing on the deck.  He actually had gotten my meat thermometer to use at first, but I swapped him for the real pretend (??) screwdriver.

Charity played in the living room for quite a while.  These magnetic tiles were a fun Aldi find a few months ago.  I have always wanted some but never wanted to spend the money on them. When I saw them at Aldi they seemed to be a good price.  The girls love playing with them, so it was a worthwhile purchase!

Before I got much headway on housework (oh, I did wash and dry some laundry here and there), it was time to make lunch.  I made sandwiches for everyone else and a salad for myself.  It was yummy: lettuce and spinach, tuna, apple, avocado and grapes drizzled with extra light olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

After lunch Susannah put away the food while I fed Catherine.  Then I loaded Catherine into the Ergo (love that thing!) and we went for a walk.  Our first stop was the chickens to look at the peeps that hatched while we were away.

Then we went to a "meadow" that is literally 1 house away from us to walk.  This was the first time I took the kids for a walk like this. They loved it! We are definitely doing this more often.  The weather was beautiful too.

Silas held my hand for the first while. 😊 I tried to show him our shadows but he couldn't "get" it.  Catherine fell asleep and was a content passenger.

I love the colors of fall and noticed the deep burgundy of these leaves. I think they might be Sumac but I'm not sure.

This just begged to be photographed.

On the way home Silas stopped often to collect rocks.  It is interesting to see the difference between girls and boys!  He also will collect sticks to carry.  Hopefully I won't find toads in his pockets some day...

When we got back Catherine wanted to eat again.  Susannah worked on her school some more (she was in Sloth mode all day).  Silas went down for a nap and Sylvia and Charity played.

I finished cleaning up most of the kitchen and then had the girls work on some picking up.  Some worked more willingly than others.

I made chicken pot pie for dinner.  I just chopped up chicken to cook, added mixed vegetables, some chicken broth, 2 cans of Cream of Chicken, some Poultry Seasoning and some rubbed Sage. It filled the casserole dish to the brim, then I topped it with homemade pie crust.

While it baked, Catherine ate again.  About the time she was finishing I smelled something burning and thought the casserole was getting too overdone.  As soon as I could I went to check, expecting to see burnt crust on the pot pie.  Instead it had bubbled over a LOT, and was creating a puddle of oven lava on the oven floor. 🙄  Oh yay...

Catherine was happy after eating and hung out in her seat while we ate dinner.

After dinner it was baths for everyone.  Daniel and I have a pretty good system down pat: I start with Silas and work my way up.  As each kid is finished, he gets them dressed (well, Sylvia and Susannah don't need his help) and starts brushing hair and teeth.  This works really well and really helps lighten my load.

Eventually everyone was in bed, finally earlier than it had been for a while!!  I went out and closed up the chickens, and came back to clean up the kitchen. (The oven spill will have to be cleaned later. This Mama can't be all things to all people and do all things too.)

The Oven Lava awaits...

I'd hoped to get a lot more done than I actually did, but there were no dull moments in the day for sure.

It was nice to end the day with a much cleaner kitchen even if I didn't get to every nook and cranny.

The day ended with feeding Catherine once more before I went to bed myself.

And that is a day in my life!!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Favorite Fall Books for Kids

I am a bookworm through and through, and am thrilled to watch each of my kids be bookworms as well.  My trouble though is knowing what are the really great books for little kids.  Books for when they are past the board picture book stage but not into long stories quite yet.

A few years ago I desperately wanted to add some seasonal books to our then meager children's book collection.  Between asking friends and browsing kids books on the topics of "fall" and "apples" at the library, I found what became our 2 very favorite fall books.  Both have their own elements of fun, both are illustrated with great pictures, and both are the perfect story-length for young listeners. {Depending on the attention span of your child or children, I would say these could easily entertain at least a 3 year old, probably even as young as 2 1/2 if your child is used to being ready to.  My 6 and 8 year olds still enjoy reading or listening to these books read.}

I first borrowed them from the library to see how we liked them.  Sometimes books, while not "bad," are just kind-of "meh" and I wanted to give them both a trial run.  We loved both of them so much that after we returned them to the library the girls continued to beg me to read them.  So I found them online and ordered them. :)  They are MUCH loved by each of our kids, and I will admit, I think they are really great too!  I don't think I could choose between the two if I had to only keep one for our collection, they are that good!

So what are these two books??


(These are not in "favorites" order, I promise! You should have both of these!)

Fall Is Not Easy is one that makes my girls laugh with each page turn.  It was recommended by a friend who is a Kindergarten teacher as a book her students love every year.

The story-line is simple as it follows a tree going through all the seasons of the year.  The hardest season for the tree is fall.  He has so much trouble getting his leaves just right.  There are several silly pages as he tries and tries, over and over again. Finally he gets his leaves the right color and then... you'll have to read it to find out the end! 😉

The pages are filled with pretty color pictures that follow the tree's experience.  I love the detail that can be found if you look within the pictures: Look for the robin building her nest... the baby birds growing up and then leaving the nest. The flowers growing, blooming, wilting. Follow the squirrel as he darts around in the summer, later gathering and hiding nuts in the fall.

My girls laugh and giggle with each page turn of this story.  Even today when Charity (5) saw me writing this blog post she giggled and said, "Fall Is Not Easy! I love that book!"

An Apple Pie for Dinner is tied for favorite position among these two books.  The mixed media illustrations along with the title are what caught my eye at first.  Once we had the book I loved it right away.  Perhaps my love of baking and working in the kitchen helps, but I think even non-kitchen-savvy people would enjoy this story.

This is a story of Granny Smith (haha!) wanting to make an apple pie but she doesn't have any apples.  So she sets out to remedy that!  Along the way she barters with people she meets, filling needs that they have, and in the end finally finds the apples she herself needs.  Then she invites everyone to help make and eat the pie.

I love the friendliness that Granny Smith shows in each situation she encounters.  Early on she quickly trades away her plums for something she doesn't need, just because she is happy to fill the other person's need.  Psst, As you read this book to your littles, have them look for the ladybugs in every picture. It is one of the favorite things my littlest littles love to do as we read this story!

In the back of the book is a recipe for an apple pie, and we have made it.  It was a fun experience to make "Granny Smith's" apple pie, even though it wasn't my favorite apple pie recipe.

If you are looking for books, I highly recommend these.  You can get them from Amazon {Fall Is Not Easy and An Apple Pie for Dinner} but they may be available cheaper on E-bay; it would depend on the price and shipping.  (Both books are Amazon Prime items, so shipping would be free if you have Prime membership.)  These make great books for your own kids, for grandkids who come to visit, nieces, nephews, and they make great birthday, Christmas or baby shower gifts!!

Let me know if you would like to hear more about our favorite books, and feel free to share your favorite titles!

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I was not paid to write this post.  This is simply a product that I purchased and enjoy so much that I wanted to share it with you, my readers. 
All opinions in this post are mine.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Kids In The Kitchen: Cooking With Sylvia

This afternoon Sylvia and I worked together making dinner.  I had gone down to the freezers this morning looking for dinner inspiration. As it was the first "cool" fall day, what better way to celebrate the arrival of cool weather than a cozy meal of beef stew? I got a beef roast out to thaw while we went about our morning of school and all the general goings on in a busy homeschooling, piano practicing, toddler-activity, baby-nursing household. 😊

By early afternoon it was thawed and after Silas started his nap I asked Sylvia to come to the kitchen with me.  I cleared off the counters while she got potatoes from the potato basket in the pantry.  I peeled the potatoes and she cut them into large chunks, tossing them into the roaster.  After we finished the potatoes, I peeled and she chopped up several carrots.  Then I pulled out an onion. "Oh no, I'm not chopping that! I'm allergic to onions!"  (She thinks that because it makes her eyes burn she is allergic. Haha!)  So I peeled and chopped the onion for her.

When we went to add the roast we realized that our small roaster wasn't big enough so we pulled out my big roaster ($5 find at Goodwill!).  We put the beef roast into the pan and seasoned both sides.  Sylvia added the vegetables and arranged them around before we seasoned them.  Next we sprinkled dried parsley all over everything.  We both thought it looked pretty!

Seasoning for a Beef Roast:
Season all sides generously with salt
Sprinkle with a bit of garlic powder and pepper
If adding potatoes and other vegetables, season them with salt and pepper.

Since this was a larger pan I did add about half a cup of water before we put it in the oven. Typically I don't add water as a beef roast (especially from a fattened beef animal) will render a nice amount of delicious broth.

I had also been wanting to make a pumpkin pie and thought this would be a good meal with which to serve pumpkin pie. :)  I found the recipe in my recipe book and showed it to Sylvia.  While I mixed up the crust she worked her way through the ingredients list, making the filling.  It was her first time independently following a recipe, but I wanted her to do it herself as much as possible.  I knew there was a chance of something getting goofed up, but there is something to be said for independent learning and the experience of being trusted with following a recipe all by yourself.

At one point she asked me to read the next ingredient amount (it was 3/4 tsp.) and I realized she had just interpreted 1/2 teaspoon as 1 teaspoon.  Since she had just put in the salt, and we didn't want salty pie, I scooped some of it back out.  After that she had me double check her reading of the measurements.  She measured everything by herself!  After she had everything added, she did the preliminary mixing and then I gave everything a good stirring to finish.

The pie baked along with the roast, making the house smell wonderful!  Supper was very delicious; the roast was amazing and had made a delicious broth that I made into gravy to pour over the vegetables.  For dessert we had Sylvia's pie.  It was very yummy and she was thrilled to serve it to us with whipped cream on top.

The pie was a little "extra" with the spices, but for her first time measuring spices and making a pie, I think it turned out very well!  I think the extra flavor came from accidentally packing the spices into the measuring spoons as she leveled them.  I will show her next time how to better measure, but I didn't want to rain on her parade too much the first time.

I am looking forward to having little cooks working in the kitchen with me this winter!!

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Catherine's Birth Story - Part 2

In Part 1, I left off when I was having mild contractions and was eating lunch.  After I ate lunch I had to be on the monitors for 20 minutes.  While we killed time in those 20 minutes Daniel finally settled on a girl name for if the baby was a girl, and we only had a first name for a boy. Nothing like last minute decisions! Amy had me in stitches with lists of the weirdest baby names ever.  Amy watched the clock like a hawk and as soon as the 20 minutes of monitoring were up she went and found a nurse to unhook me so we could go walking again. If I have my times correct, it was right around 3pm when we started our next round of walking.  During this time the contractions picked up in both frequency and intensity, but I was still doing the stairs and squats.  I remember during one of my squats (during which I closed my eyes to focus through the pressure and contraction-like discomfort) some guy walked past and really questioned Amy as to if I was ok.  I'm sure I was quite a sight, massively pregnant, dressed in 2 gowns, hanging off a hand-rail in a hallway. Haha!! She cheerfully assured him I was just fine. (Thanks for absorbing the awkward for me, Amy!!)

Also during this time the lobby area seemed to be filling with people.  I named it The Tourist's Trap, mentally choosing to not notice that there seemed to be 50 people I was parading past every little bit.  I also had to stop at the one bathroom nearly every time we were at that end of our route. (Memorable, random note: the toilets are automatically flushing toilets. One of the toilets was "flushing" the ENTIRE time I was walking. I think their service men must have been hanging out with the security people who were supposed to unlock that supply closet in Part 1.)  Amy later told me that not only were there a lot of people waiting for laboring mothers to deliver (I will never understand this), but also a lot of couples there for a L&D tour.  I really was a spectacle! Haha! Tour exhibit 1: "Laboring Mother Walking Laps."

I really have no concept of time-line at this point, but before our allotted walking time was over the contractions were strong enough that I was starting to slow or stop walking each time I had one. We got to one set of stairs and Amy suggested I do stairs again. I said "I don't want to do any more stairs." I don't know if I did one last squat there or if I said I didn't want to do any more of those either.  We walked back to the other end of our route and I said I wanted to go back to my room.  (They were SUPPOSED to be getting my room ready while we walked, moving me out of the bathroom stall sized Triage room.) As we approached the lobby full of people, I had to stop for a contraction. I knew they were getting a lot closer and a lot more intense. I either thought or mentioned to Amy that my goal was to get through the lobby and through the door to L&D before the next contraction. That meant I had to move fast, but I didn't want to stop mid-crowd of people. I waddled as quickly as I could and made a bee-line for the door. I had a serious conversation with the door guard person in my head, saying, "I am going through THAT door and it had BETTER be open when I get there!" Sure enough, somehow either Amy or I communicated to the guard that we were going back into L&D because they swiped their badge and opened the door for me.  As soon as I was through the door the next contraction hit and I had to stop, but I'd made it through the crowd of observers!

We still had to go to the Triage room, but once there I mentally refused to get on the bed or sit down. So I stood. In my mind if I got in the bed (1) they would take longer to move me, and (2) Triage rooms have gourneys instead of beds; gourneys are KILLERS to the read-end and tailbone!!!  Plus they said they almost had a real room ready for me. During this time the room felt about 100° and I was roasting hot. Amy and Daniel took turns using the cafeteria tray from my lunch to fan me, which felt amazing. I was so hot that when they did come to take us to the real Labor and Delivery room (4pm), Amy took the tray along.

Either before or right after we got to the room I asked to sit on a birthing ball. I had not liked it very well with any previous labors, but for some reason I wanted to sit on one.  I sat beside the bed and labored while Daniel and Amy continued to fan me with the tray. Eventually I cooled off enough to ask them to stop.  Around this time I also really wished I had actually put a CD onto my phone that I wanted to listen to so I could have a focal point. Instead focused on the chorus to the one song (my favorite), singing in my head.  It was a peaceful and comforting distraction.  (You can listen to the song here.) I had a rhythm of a rocking/swaying going on, but would stop as each contraction started, then I would resume once it left.  Amy clued in to this, and began putting counter-pressure on my low back during contractions.  She showed Daniel how to do it and they took turns.  She also had a rice sock for me, but all I wanted to do was smell it. Haha! She puts essential oils in the rice and it had a very calming, peaceful effect for me. At one point, after every contraction I yawned a huge yawn. That was somewhat comical! Rock/sway, stop for contraction, yawn, rock/sway...

Interestingly enough, with Silas' labor I was SO tired and felt like having lights on in the room would have helped.  This time I had my eyes closed much of the time during active labor.  Each labor is different!

Eventually Amy commented that I was too comfortable and she wanted me to get up and move around after a few more contractions.  While the contractions were not so much "painful," they were getting increasingly uncomfortable and growing in intensity. I had a love/hate relationship with Amy at that point, saying in my head, "I am NOT too comfortable!!" I did NOT want to get up to do ANYthing. I was very much in a zone, handling each contraction well, and I didn't want that rhythm interrupted.

After several more contractions I decided to stall on Amy's suggestion and asked to go to the bathroom. (I guess I really didn't want to do whatever she maybe had planned!) I don't remember much of that at all except once I peed the contractions changed drastically. I don't remember how, but Amy and Daniel ended up in the bathroom with me while I was still on the commode. I was hanging onto Daniel's legs through the contractions that had grown in intensity about 3x what they had been before the bathroom trip. Not knowing that within  what would seem mere minutes I would be having the baby, I said I thought I wanted an epidural. I was thinking I was probably at best around 8cm, and had probably another hour to go yet. I didn't want to labor for another hour+ with that level of intensity. Amy and the nurse both suggested that I should get in the tub. I adamantly declined. Partly because it didn't appeal to me at all in the moment (probably I would have liked it earlier), but the side of the tub looked about 4 feet high and I didn't want to have to climb in it.

I made it back to the bed somehow, and no one made a move towards an epidural. I sat on the ball for another contraction or two before I leaned over and punched the call bell, asking for an epidural. I didn't know that both anesthesiologists were in emergency C-sections and wouldn't be available for a long time. Haha! They did send in someone from anesthesiology to put in an IV port, since 3 nurses hadn't been successful in their earlier attempts. Right before this, Amy had put a hair comb in each of my hands to grip; providing acupressure which both distracted and gave relief. The guy from anesthesiology thought it was a little quacky, I think. :P  Anyway, with a lot of pain on my part, he got an IV port into the back of my hand, which hurt more than the contractions at that point! Ow!!! Next time I will decline it until I know for sure I need it!

Then Amy said I needed to get onto the bed so the nurse could check me.  I was having tunnel vision at this point and I think I looked at the bed in some kind of stupor. It also looked about 4 feet high and I had no idea how I was going to get onto the bed. (Amy told me later that she could see what I was thinking, but the bed was already as low as it could go, which is actually pretty low. Haha!!!) Getting onto the bed and onto my back was THEE most painful and difficult part of the whole labor and delivery. I think I was the most vocal through that than I was at any other point the whole day as I talked to myself the whole time... but I don't remember if I said my thoughts out loud or just in my head.  Life was in slow motion and some details just vanished from my memory.

I was finally on my back. Amy gave me her fingers to grip because being on my back was agony plus getting checked IS torture. The nurse started to check me and and instead found the baby's head at plus 2 station! (Which is pretty much ready to crown!) Amy asked if I felt like I needed to push and it was as if my brain only needed to hear the words.  Immediately I nodded my head as I felt the baby being born.  I don't remember really making any effort as my body was just pushing the baby out all on it's own, but I DO remember the nurse nearly yelling into her intercom "I need a table in here NOW! I NEED HELP! THE BABY'S CROWNING!" Amy said "oh yeah, there's the head!!", and then the baby slid out the rest of the way as the nurse yelled "I NEED HELP, THE BABY'S OUT!! Somebody call time!" (She was born at 5:42pm.)

Right then the room was flooded with nurses and our midwife, they placed Catherine on my stomach, someone announced that she was a girl, and I, pretty much in shock at what just happened, looked at Amy and said, "WOW!!!" and laughed. All that happened pretty much simultaneously and couldn't have been more than a minute (or two, max) from the time the nurse realized the baby was crowning until Catherine literally slid out.

Everything was a flurry after that. I got a glimpse of Catherine's face at one point and I thought that she looked like our baby. Not that she would not look like our baby, but her face was familiar, looking similar to our other babies when they were born. She looked like OUR baby.

She weighed 7 lbs. 12 oz. and was 20" long.
This was my record-breaking labor, being the shortest at somewhere under 4 hours of active labor. Most definitely the fastest delivery.  😂

As the nurses were entering all the information, I overheard them talking about the timing of everything.  "It asks for time of last cervical check, time pushing began, and time of deliver. Um... I'm just putting down 5:42 for all three!!" 

Aside from the un-fun fundal massages, everything after Catherine's birth went great. I felt great, she was so soft and warm and snuggly, and on the OUTSIDE. Since they were so busy that day, it was nearly 2 hours before we were moved up to the mother-baby unit. Catherine went through the motions of her first feeding while we waited, and did a great job for her first time nursing. I kept waiting to have the post-delivery shakes like I had with Charity and Silas (with them it happened within an hour of birth) but it never happened. {I did experience them a few days after coming home.}

The most painful part (and really the only pain) of my recovery time in the hospital was my tailbone. It hurt SO badly the first day after she was born that the nurse had me take a Motrin, but that only took the edge off the pain. I'm not sure if it hurt so much from the time spent on the Triage bed or if somehow labor and/or the incredibly fast delivery may have contributed in some way. Thankfully by the 2nd day the pain was just a major discomfort, and through the first week subsided.

That wraps up the story of Catherine's birth as well as I remember right now.  She is a champion eater and sleeper, which has made our transition to having a new baby again be very easy in many ways.

Part 1 of Catherine's Birth Story

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Great Applesauce Making of 2018

This past Friday marked the end of our canning season for 2018.  Before and after Catherine was born I canned peaches, and honestly had forgotten about applesauce.  Somewhere in my mind I knew we were pretty much out of applesauce but I wasn't sure if I wanted to or could manage applesauce this year.  And then my friend sent me a text asking me if I wanted her to get apples for me while she was getting her own.  Of course without a moment of hesitation I automatically responded with "yes!"

Sylvia chopping apples.

When the 5 bushels of apples arrived on Friday reality set in: I needed to juggle homeschool, nursing Catherine, meals, laundry, and making and canning applesauceI decided I would just do it as best I could and not stress over anything that didn't get done.  On days when we didn't go anywhere, at all, the day looked sort-of like this: breakfast and feed Catherine, get the girls started on school, do kitchen clean up, maybe start laundry, get the pots and cutting boards set up in the kitchen, get out the apples, and just get started.  Of course this was all peppered with all the normal mom-things of meeting needs and helping little people, so it took a lot longer than it reads!  But I wasn't in this to do it sprint style, I was doing it eat-an-elephant style: one bite at a time.

The reality would be that it was almost always early afternoon that I actually began working on peeling and chopping the apples.  Silas loves fruit so he frequently stopped by for samples.  The girls really wanted to help as well, and I wanted them to help (so they could participate and learn by doing), so often one of the 3 older girls would stand on a stool and chop the prepared apples into chunks and dump them into the large cooking pot.  {Somehow I don't have any pictures of Charity helping me. :(  She helped me for a little while one of the first days.}

It would inevitably be near dinner-time by the time we had a batch of apples peeled, cored and chopped. The apples would cook through the evening and I would stir them every so often to keep them from burning and to get them to the "chunky applesauce" texture that we like.  If things went really well, I was ladleing the applesauce into jars and getting them into the canner about the same time the kids went to bed.  If I go the jars into the canner close to bed-time, I could go to bed myself at a decent (aka, before midnight) hour.

We repeated that general scenario for many days.  There were some days that applesauce just didn't happen at all.  One day it was all I could do to get the apples in the pot to cook, so I put them on low heat overnight and they were perfectly cooked and ready to can the next morning.  One day I thought I had more flat canning lids but I didn't.  I canned what I had lids for and ordered lids from Amazon. (I love Amazon in this season of life!)

Sylvia and I thought this apple didn't want to be turned into applesauce. :)
I had one day "off" while we waited on lids and that day was consumed by cooking and taking food to a fundraiser in which our family was participating.  That was a Saturday and the lids arrived Sunday.  Daniel helped me Sunday afternoon and we got a big pot of apples cooking in a shorter amount of time.  It was really nice to have his help and we got to spend that time together talking.

At one point, Susannah was beside me chopping apples and ALL the other kids wanted to be in the kitchen. It felt a wee bit crowded sometimes!!
Once I had plenty of lids, I was ready to have it finished.  I needed to have the canning done so I could get back to all the day-to-day things that were majorly sliding... like my own laundry, and cooking dinners.  We were eating "fast" food most days for dinner, which is handy, but gets old quickly.  I kept powering through working as quickly as I could and we used paper dishes to cut down on dirty dishes and to save kitchen clean-up time.

On Thursday I decided I was just going to go into power-mode and my #1 focus (aside from keeping the kids alive and fed) was going to be applesauce.  I peeled and chopped and chopped and peeled, cooked and stirred, and stirred and cooked.   I think I did a double batch that Thursday, and Sylvia helped me intermittently with chopping the apples.

On Friday the light was at the end of the tunnel and I thought that if I pushed really hard I could finish.  Susannah wanted to be my main helper, so she quickly finished her school for the day and joined me at the kitchen counter.  I would peel and core the apples and she would chop.  If she behind I would help her chop and then she would work at peeling an apple while I chopped for a bit.
Susannah taking a turn peeling apples.

At one point we had finished the bowl full of apples and I stopped to feed Catherine.  All on her own, Susannah got another load of apples and began peeling them.  I was completely exhausted and ended up dozing while Catherine nursed and burped.  When I mustered up my reserve to get back to the kitchen, Susannah had peeled a whole bunch of apples!  I was really grateful for her willingness to work ahead, and for all of her help that day!  It definitely made a difference in how quickly we finished.  When the last apple was chopped up and put into the cooking pot, I gave a big cheer.  Susannah thought I was a little really silly, but it was worth it!

She took her work seriously.
 I think I pulled the last jars from the canner sometime between dinner and bedtime, and as soon as the kids were in bed I crashed into my own bed. The next day it was an amazing feeling to know I didn't need to work on apples.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy making and canning applesauce and love homemade applesauce, it was just a LOT of work and meant that a LOT of other things were put on hold.  When all the jars were put onto the pantry shelves, I counted up that we had canned 63 quarts.  It's nice to have our very favorite applesauce stored up to enjoy this winter. :)

Farewell, Canning Season, we'll see you next year... probably.

These are the canning lids I purchased:

Regular mouth

Wide mouth  (I don't have as many wide-mouth jars as I have regular mouth, but wide-mouth is a lot easier to wash and get clean in the dishwasher!)

This is NOT the same pot that I have, but if you are looking to purchase a quality pot that you can use for both canning and cooking, I believe this one would be a good one.  It has a thicker bottom and is made from a higher-quality of Stainless Steel.  {Note that you would also need a canning rack to keep the jars from sitting directly on the bottom of the pot.  You can use a layer of extra canning rings in a pinch, but I find that over time the rings can leave rust stains on the pot.  I have linked to a canning rack below.}

I do not have this specific canning rack but my mom has one like this and it works very well. :)

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I was not paid to write this post.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

New Bibs for Catherine

Our first 3 babies (all girls) pretty much never drooled so the half dozen or so Minnie Mouse bibs we had were plenty, and got the most use when the girls started eating solid food.  Enter stains.  After 3 girls they were pretty beat-up looking.  Then we had Silas who started drooling torrents around 3 months old and didn't stop until he was over 18 months old.  We collected bibs left and right for him.  We probably have around 30 bibs for Silas; I'm not kidding.

Then Catherine was born and I knew I would need to replenish our girly bibs.  After using bibs for 8 years, I have figured out what I like and don't like in a bib.

  • Thin, single or double-layer terry cloth.  Drool (or drips from cups) soak right through and quickly saturate the bib and anything it is covering.  Basically they don't really work at all other than for appearance's sake.
  • Bibs that tie.  I'm not sure how many bibs are sold these days that tie, but ties are a pain when you are changing bibs every 20-30 minutes.
  • VELCRO.  Velcro is nice and sweet when the baby is not yet mobile and doesn't have the dexterity to pull the bib off.  Once the baby can grab and pull, unless you have brute-strength velcro, bibs get pulled off... once again defeating the purpose of wearing a bib in the first place.
  • Lint-saturated or simply worn out velcro.  I have tossed more than one bib that the velcro had either gotten so packed full of lint, or the "sticky side" had worn out, that the velcro just held together if you didn't move at all.  That doesn't work well at all.
  • Absorbent fabric!! 
  • Double layers of fabric!!
  • Light-weight, because once a bib starts soaking full of drool it gets heavy enough without being heavy, drool-soaked fabric.
  • SNAAAAAPPPPS Oh my, snaps are the best thing ever for bibs.  Especially if there are 2 sets so the neck-hole can be adjustable as the baby grows.

That said, Catherine started drooling a little, just enough that I decided to go ahead and order some bibs.  I went to my handy-dandy Amazon app during one of Catherine's feedings and scrolled through bibs.  I was looking for pretty and feminine, snaps, and a decent price.  I am one that doesn't simply hunt down the most inexpensive of a product just to save a few pennies or dollars.  Generally I go for a balance of quality and cost.  Sometimes that means paying more for an item, but I am happy to pay a little more and the product last longer/work better.

In my browsing, these bibs caught my eye.  I looked at a few more but ended up coming back to these and ordering them.  When they arrived Sylvia opened the package and asked if she could unpack them.  They are so pretty.  Sylvia unpacked them from their box, ooh-ing and ah-ing over each one as she laid them all out to view.  Each one was her new "favorite" though the one with pink cupcakes stayed at the top of her favorites.

Since we have gotten them, Catherine has put them to good use and they are working very well!  They haven't soaked through yet, but have gotten quite wet.  Maybe I am changing them before they soak through, or possibly the fleece backing (100% organic cotton for the front, and polyester fleece for the backing) helps keep it from soaking through.  Either way, I am really happy with them.  {Note: I did not purchase them because they are made with organic fabric, but I certainly don't mind that part. :) }

I would definitely buy these bibs again.  They fit all of my requirements, are affordable, and are pretty bibs for a pretty little girl. :)  If you would like to look at them or purchase them, you can find them here:

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I was not paid to write this post.  This is simply a product that I purchased and enjoy so much that I wanted to share it with you, my readers.  All opinions in this post are mine.