T Rex Family

T Rex Family

Monday, August 29, 2011

To Nana's House We Go...

This past weekend we went over to my mom's place for a little Saturday night pizza. The kids enjoyed the different toys, especially Bebe Sister who loved all the "bebes" (dolls) and "BEEEAAARSS" (bears). 

Bebe Sister looked so grown up in her braids and jeans sitting up on Nana's step stool. T Rex enjoyed wearing his mom-made Buzz Lightyear shorts

This was a fun departure from my studies. At this point I am overwhelmed by how much school work I have each week in addition to my clinical days. I have designated Monday and Friday mornings as kid time. More on that later. For now, I better get back to the kids, school, and be grateful that the 60 lbs of organic peaches arriving tomorrow morning does not have to be canned until the long weekend.

Thank you all for hanging in there with me as I launch into this tough semester.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Emergency Preparations...Thoughts on Irene

In watching all the folks gear up for Irene, it has made me look inward as to what my emergency preparation status is. I ask you as well as myself, "If Irene were hitting your home today, would you be ready?"

From last week's pickle canning. 25lbs = 24 jars.
Last year I did a series on some of our emergency preparations. I told you about the time we were evacuated from our home due to fire and how our preparations saved us from undue discomfort. It certainly reaffirmed our need to update some of those preparations which we have since done so. 

I was first introduced to "prepping," as it is called, when I was asked to be the emergency preparations coordinator for my church group while at college. At that point I had little experience preparing for emergencies aside from some dry and canned goods that we kept around the house. Really, though, Mom and I had little extra funds for such preparations. Had I known then what I do today about such preparations, we probably would have moved its importance higher on our scale of priorities.

I know sometimes folks scoff or even joke at our preparations. Some just say, "I'll just come to your house if there's ever an emergency." Some are curious and ask questions. Some reply and say, "Which is your favorite website for food purchases?" And some give the blank stare of bewilderment like we subscribe to some odd cult. 

For us, self sufficiency is of utmost importance. We are not in a place in our lives right now to be completely self-sustained. However, we strive to ensure that we have enough food, water, and other supplies so if there were an emergency situation, we would be prepared. Even a disruption in food supply chain makes a huge impact as more and more agriculture is taking place great distances from where it will eventually be sold. We want to ensure that our family is provided for in case of emergency - period. 

We encourage others to do the same. I've taught home canning classes and tortilla making from food storage supplies. T Rex Dad has taught others how to store dry goods. And yes, we do have some "refugee rations" for folks who say they'll just come to our place in case of an emergency. However, when the refugee rations run out, you better hope the disaster has past or have other plans. 

So, in answering my initial question, the absolute honest answer would be a resounding "yes". We have plenty of food, water, batteries, flashlights, candles, fuel, diapers, wipes, toilet paper, medical supplies, radios, communication devices, plus many other items I cannot think of off the top of my head. We are ready. This has taken many years to achieve. It was not something we did overnight or in one day. A trip to Wal-Mart would not even begin to cover our preparations. It could be a good start. 

(Also a quick note to those folks who are going through Irene, the T Rex Family household will be sending good thoughts and prayers your direction.)

How about you, "If Irene were hitting your home today, would you be ready?" What would it take to motivate you to start preparing for emergencies?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Our kids love books. I think it has been one of the benefits of not watching TV and only minimal age appropriate shows. It helps, too, they visit the library for Toddler Tales every week. T Rex LOVES the librarian, Ms. Tammy - she does a beautiful job with the kids.

When T Rex and Bebe Sister want some entertainment without toys or crafts, they reach for a book. T Rex Dad has a mantra he sticks to pretty carefully, if one of the kids brings him a book and asks to read, he stops what he is doing and reads the book. As long as he's not walking out the door, he complies. I often see him mid-dishes sitting on the kitchen floor reading to one or both of the kids. Plus, there is story time before bed time. Good Night Moon gets so much action we have two copies.

The other day I was touched when I saw them reading to each other. One of those priceless moments. Here they are reading Thomas the Tank books checked out from the library. I think we have every Thomas the Tank book on loan at the moment. It's not just T Rex that's into them either. Bebe Sister LOVES trains, too.

How do you promote reading in your home?

Monday, August 22, 2011

School Is Back in Session...

Well, it's official, school starts today. My nice long summer break is over and it's time to buckle down and get back to work. I have had some of you inquire as to my feelings about going back. Thanks to those who asked; I am feeling scared, excited, nervous, and sad. I'll explain.

I have two separate segments to the semester. Half of my studies will be in pediatrics and half in geriatrics. Nothing like being at two separate ends of the spectrum. I get to work with one of our community's only pediatric nurse practitioners. She is wonderful - so much so that she's actually who my kids see. This I am excited to do. Plus, I do love pediatrics. However, my geriatrics rotation will be at a local internal medicine clinic. Internal medicine is tough - the patients usually have lengthy medication lists and chronic and multiple co-morbidities. This makes me scared and nervous.

Overall, I am sad that I'll be away from the kids two days a week for 10-12 weeks. It has been wonderful being with them every day this summer and I cannot say that there were not days I did not feel I needed a day away. However, when faced with the thought of being away from them 200 hours this semester, I am sad. Their "Nan" (my mom) will be with them, and honestly when she is around I don't exist to them. It's nice for her to have the time with them and they have a great time with her. She has some preschool lessons already picked out to teach T Rex (she used to be a preschool director) and she will also be continuing his Spanish lessons on those days, too. Plus, I usually come home to some kind of art work on the fridge or play dough crumbs on the floor. Knowing all this does ease the sting of being away from them. Still, it's hard.

When I asked T Rex last week what he wanted to do with me knowing it was my last week of summer break, can you guess what he said? Go to the zoo, of course. This time we went just the three of us. (T Rex Dad had to be back at work after our cabin trip.) Rarely do just the three of us go. Usually we go with another family. This time, though, it was just us and it was lovely. I know, I know, you've all seen so many zoo photos but it's just such a great place for the kids.

This was Bebe Sister's first time driving the safari jeep. Her brother was very polite and let the little lady drive.

These elephants are great fun because about every minute or two they spray mist. Always fun to see how it surprises the kids. Don't you love that watermelon dress? Another $0.99 thrift store purchase. I don't know if this Gymboree dress had even been worn.

We recently read Eric Carle's "Panda Bear, Panda Bear". Spider monkeys are one of the animals mentioned. The kids were most excited when this one came down from the tree branches and sat down right in front of them on the other side of the glass. It was as curious about them as they were of him.

As always, the sheep and goats were great fun. They fed the giraffes, too, but it is less structured at the sheep and goats. I was really charmed when T Rex snuggled one of the sheep. It was pretty sweet. The sheep are preferred to me compared with the goats. They are more polite and gentler eaters.

Bebe Sister even used the zoo's public restroom twice with her port-a-potty seat. She has officially transitioned from elimination communication to potty training. How do I know this? She will now say "pee pee" when she needs to go. This happens only about 40% of the time. The rest of the time we just take her, but it's a step in the PT direction. Getting her well on the potty training road was a huge goal of mine during my summer break. It will certainly ease the diaper washing burden. We're now down to washing once a week.

I've also completed many sewing projects this summer. I will be posting about those this week so stay tuned. However, in the end, I do believe I am ready for the semester to begin. Nine months and I'll graduate. Kind of like having a baby except in the end, no sweet newborn snuggles but at least a diploma and a few extra initials added to the end of my name along with not more homework or Amazon textbook purchases.

I'll try to keep posting regularly. I have several posts pre-written but when school gets busy, you might only hear from me once or twice a week. Thanks for being loyal readers and sticking with me on this journey.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

"What You Gonna Do When They Come For You?"

Can this be a good thing?

When I was about T Rex's age I went with my mom to the craft store. I was wearing a red pull over sweatshirt with a front pocket that both my hands fit into. I recall there were these pom pom puff ball things that I wanted. When I asked my mom if we could get them she said we could not. Thus, when she was not looking I grabbed a couple of handfuls and put them into my pocket. 

Upon arriving back at home I proudly showed my mom what I brought home. She was very cross with me and explained that was stealing and we did not take things that we did not have permission to take or had not been paid for.

She told me she was very disappointed and that I would take them back to the store the next day and apologize. In the mean time, she said I should be very good otherwise someone from juvy-hall would be coming by to take me away. Oh, goodness, every time I heard a siren or a helicopter I was sure they were coming for me. 

Fortunately for us we have a friendly family friend police officer who graces us with a visit whenever he's in the neighborhood and might have a break. We promise to always feed him which we do. Unfortunately, the kids are learning that police officers like this one are really nice and friendly, and his arrival does not indicate they are in trouble but quite the opposite.

Look at them waving goodbye...

I guess we won't be using the juvy-hall line on them. 

Do you find yourself using or intentionally not using some of the same parenting techniques your parents used on you? Or just saying some of the same things your parents used to say?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cabin Trip Part III - Nature Walk

On the first morning at the cabin we took a nature walk. This particular walk I've done on horseback and it did not seem all that long. Carting a toddler on my back and having our three year old walk on his own made the walk seem quite a bit longer. This would probably explain why T Rex slept so soundly and so easily despite all the adults conversing downstairs. He was a trooper and walked the entire way.

We picked wildflowers and rocks, looked a bugs, and even spied some broken egg shells. For some reason, T Rex was most impressed with the broken egg shells. 

It was a great walk - more like a trek. I acquired two mosquitoes bites through my clothing but we did bring home some lovely flowers. The smaller bunch were the ones T Rex picked for his grandma. I think the best were the giant dandelions. I was just glad I've been going through immunotherapy treatment for my allergies. I managed walking through all those pollinating weeds and wildflowers without any sneezing, itchy nose, or hives and absolutely no drugs. I did get a good chuckle when T Rex told us those dandelions would turn into rumor weeds. Sharp mind on that kid!

This is the end of our cabin adventures. Here is T Rex's summation upon seeing his Nana, "There were no fish in the slimy lake and no uncle-berries* but there were mosquitoes and egg shells. It was not fun anymore after Grandma and Grandpa left." 

Thank you, G & G for allowing us a get-away. Thanks to our kids for not getting any permanent injuries. Lastly, a huge thank you to T Rex Dad for all his help. It was so very much work being there with little kids. Quite the departure from our pre-kid days when we would go to the cabin and spend days just enjoying the calm and quiet and taking hikes and picking berries. However, I am very grateful to be in this place at this time with this man and these little kids. Sometimes a little trip like this puts all that in perspective.

*Translation - T Rex calls huckleberries "uncle-berries"

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cabin Trip Part II - Fishing

T Rex has been asking repeatedly to go fishing. So, when we were up at the cabin we had him inquire of his grandpa.

Grandpa set him up with a rod, reel, and some bait and T Rex Dad helped him get started. He threw his line in the water and wait and waited. Not too long because T Rex was torn between fishing and swimming in the lake.  Bebe Sister was also torn between the two. Despite her assistance, there were no fish caught.

Bebe Sister played on the tiny bit of sand on the beach but then insisted on chasing her brother. 

The dock was under repair so there is a five foot drop. Hence, I did not want Bebe Sister there. In the short amount of time she was near there she acquired a huge scrap full of splinters. These were not fun to remove (and yes, they had to be removed).

In the end, T Rex declared the lake water was "slimy" and there were no fish. However, the next morning he and his sister found great fun peering into the lake from the neighbor's intact dock that had no splinters.  

Part III - Nature Walk - coming up next...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cabin Trip - Part I

Thank you to those who have emailed concern about my lack of posting of recent. We are fine. The cold we had was short-lived. We had a cabin trip planned so there has been a lot of prep work for that. Plus, school starts in 10 days. I'll be a full time graduate student. I know I'll miss the kids the two days a week I am working at the clinic so I've been giving them a lot of attention, and there will be little time for crafting so I've been sewing for the kids' fall/winter clothes, too. (More on that in a later posting.)

We took off earlier this week for a little rest and relaxation at T Rex Dad's parents' mountain lake cabin. We were not sure we wanted to go as the last time we attempted the trip we lasted about 18 hours. We were desperate, however, to get out of town as we have not left a 30 mile radius of our home in over a year. We crammed a lot of stuff into the 40 hours we stayed.

I'll break the trip down into three sections - Fun, Fishing, and Nature Hike. It took me a full day of cooking just to prepare our meals and snacks while we were going to be there. Plus, I just cannot leave the house without it being sparkling clean so I did that, too. Additionally, diapers needed to be washed to pack I should not have worried about diapers as our daughter soiled one the entire time we were gone. Let's just say we did the potty victory dance a lot while we were gone.

Here you go - Part I - Cabin Fun

We arrived just in time for pre-bed bath time. We started the fun there. We closed the curtain so the kids could splash. As you can imagine being in the car, they needed to work some of their toddler energy out which they happily did.

Some of the other various things we occupied our time with included some regular fun things like reading, crocheting, stickers, and playdough. Playdough was ten times funner once Grandma and Grandpa joined us and got in on the fun. Oh, and nothing beats that early 1980's bright orange counter top. What about those curtains behind us? The bowl of cereal on the counter is also retro - probably circa 1960s. T Rex Dad ate from these dinner settings when he was a child. Being at the cabin is like taking a trip back in time. Even some of the bathroom reading literature is dated 1981.

There were also some not-so-normal activities the kids occupied themselves with. Things like prisms on the lamp making rainbows on the wall. How about those spiral stairs? T Rex Dad suggested them to his parents when they were building the cabin thirty years ago. He could not have foreseen that one day they would cause him and his wife a heart attack every time their kids tried to use them? Oh, and both the kids can put their entire bodies through those rails. The spinning wheel was also a big draw for the kids - circa 1869 brought over by T Rex Dad's great, great, great grandma Ann Dumboe of Norway.

After the kids retired for the night, the grown ups had some fun playing poker. We did play with pennies but no winnings were kept. T Rex had no problem falling asleep in the upstairs loft, but the little princess was distracted by the talking so we moved her to the upstairs bathroom where she could have quiet. Alas, she ended up waking up at 11:00 pm and did not go back to sleep until 3:00 am. Hence, that night we did not get much sleep. We suspect she was scared waking up in a strange place. Good thing Grandma and Grandpa had their hearing aids out so they could sleep through the long stretches of crying.

The next morning after Grandma and Grandpa departed we decided the cabin would just not be as much fun without them so after some fishing and lunch we took off for home. We had planned to be up there four full days and nights but it just did not work out for us. We were grateful for G&G for having us there. However, it was not a break for the grown-ups. We were just too busy entertaining little ones and keeping them safe from falling into the lake or falling off the balcony or stairs. Add to this the lack of sleep, we just decided it would be more of a break to be at home. In the end, we agree with Dorothy - There's no place like home. We are not, however, desperate to get out of town any more.

Stay tuned for Cabin Trip Part II - Fishing.

Has that ever happened to you - want to get out of town but find yourself missing home?

Sunday, August 7, 2011


On Tuesday night, Bebe Sister had a little runny nose. That night, no sleeping. Then for the next four nights not a stitch of sleep was to be found for any of us. If Bebe Sister was not unhappy, then T Rex was. If they were fine, then I was coughing. It is not a bad cold by any means. And it's been months since we've had any illness around here. However, nothing takes the wind out of my sails faster than lack of sleep. 

Before kids T Rex Dad and I thought if we could not get eight hours of sleep a night we would die the next day. Now, if we get four - six hours we're doing good, six to seven we're great, seven or more and we're flying high. I cannot remember the last time we had more than seven hours of sleep. 

So, with all that being said, I missed writing about World Breastfeeding Week. If you've been a reader for any amount of time you probably can gather that I'm very pro-breastfeeding. I wrote a paper for my health care policy class last summer evaluating cost savings if 75% of women breastfed their babies for 6 months exclusively. The estimated cost to the U.S. would be just over 3 billion dollars. Now I know that's just a drop in the bucket compared to the trillions we are in debt but more interesting to me is the way the cost is calculated. This is not cost related to purchase of formula - that might hit the trillion dollar mark. No, this is cost savings in decreasing the incidence of childhood illness as well as decreased maternal illness, too. 

Oh, let's not forget the more recent research that breastfeeding in the first six months can also add up to six extra IQ points for the child, too. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively until age 6 months and then continuing through the 12 month mark. The World Health Organization recommends very similar things except continuing to 24 months or as long as mother and child are still mutually enjoying the experience.

Where are we at? Bebe Sister is still nursing a tiny bit every morning. I think we are almost done, but I'm waiting for her to be done. With T Rex it was kind of a speedy process as he was about the same age she is now but I was also newly pregnant with her and very ill from nausea and vomiting. Struggling to stay hydrated expedited the weaning process for T Rex. This time, we don't have that concern. (No babies expected any time soon here. It's all about getting through school for the time being.) I also have to say how nice it is to be experiencing the height of crazy toddlerness with Bebe Sister and not having to stop every 15 minutes to vomit. I seriously do not know how I did it 2 years ago.

I could tell you all the wonderful things about breastfeeding that I know. We all know it's best. Certainly my intent in writing this is not to alienate those women who for whatever reason could not breastfeed their babies. For something so natural I have yet to know a single lactating woman who did not have even one breastfeeding issue. Including myself having the knowledge I do and even teaching other woman how to breastfeed, I still suffered a few ills here and there. Teaching and doing are two entirely different things. 

However, I do want to offer some simple pieces of advice. 

One - get help before things get too rough. Hours can make a difference in making the experience a good versus a bad one.

Secondly, teach your child early on to sign for milk. We did this with both of our kids and it was useful for a couple of reasons. First, it was easy for them to tell us when they were hungry or thirsty. Additionally, it was nice to avoid the hands down the shirt or patting the breasts (either yours or someone else's) in public. Once Bebe Sister crawled up to another mom nursing her baby and signed for milk. I was relieved she did not go up and start patting the woman's breasts. Let's just say it has avoided a few uncomfortable situations. This is especially useful if you continue breastfeeding past that one year mark. 

Dads - there is lots you can do too. Don't think putting a formula filled bottle in baby's mouth is the only way you can help. Support in any way, shape, or form is the absolute best thing you can do. Ideas? Bring the baby to mom, take over diaper duty, burp after feedings, bring mom water to stay hydrated, and go to a breastfeeding class with her. Just knowing some of the simple fixes has proven effective in increasing breastfeeding duration and success.

So here we are with Bebe Sister 18 1/2 months old and she is probably close to being weaned. In fact, she's even started giving up her thumb. We joke that she is at that "force of nature" stage but she really is our angel baby - how grateful we are she just kind of eases into things. 

Oh, in case you were wondering, I did get 6 1/2 hours of sleep last night. Ahh, life is pretty good today!

What are your thoughts today - on breastfeeding or sleep deprivation?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Downtown Outing Two

Here are some photos form our second recent outing downtown. This time we met up with some friends who were visiting from Florida. They are delightful and we had a great time chatting and catching up. Luckily, the fountain was running so we had some entertainment for the kids following our meal at one of our favorite eating establishments. 

Usually, we go here after a successful well-child exam but this past check up T Rex asked to go over to a friend's house to play and T Rex Dad had to work. Hence, it was just Bebe Sister and me at her appointment. I will say, it was the first time I have dropped off T Rex at a friend's house just for the sole purpose of playing, not because I needed him to be with a sitter so I could go to an appointment. It was sort of a surreal growing up mom-moment for me. He did great and did not even miss me. Guess it was not such a big moment for him, huh?

Before we left the house, Bebe Sister had to model her new $4 outfit. Then her brother had to model his new Lightning McQueen pants that I made for him. I also made him a matching blanket, pillow case, and bag but more on all these in another posting. Lots of projects in the works. Making one last push before school starts in just under three weeks.

Since we missed our trip to the Beanery, we decided this was the perfect place to take our friends for some home-style cookin' outside the home. There is a charming little pond just outside where the kids enjoy wading. No matter how hard me try, they always get completely wet. Oh, and a plug for pocket style cloth diapers - if you need a swim diaper but don't have one handy, pull out the insert and it works like a charm. (I would, however, not use these at the pool as I'd be worried about the chemicals harming my covers. I am certain they would hold in messes nicely, though.)

Then they were off to splash in the fountain. T Rex does not really enjoy getting wet at the pool but he really enjoys splashing in the fountain. The photos say it all.

Finally we managed to drag the kids away from the fountain and into some dry clothes - note T Rex has no pants on. Our emergency clothes in the car are more for cold weather and with it being 99 degrees that day he refused sweatpants. (I don't blame him.) So, boxer briefs and a t-shirt were sufficient. They still found fun dancing on a nearby stage. Our little princess was up on the stage dancing like a super-star tap dancer. I really see a future for that gal.

After two hours of fun, it was nap time and home we went. We shall miss our friends and hope someday to make the trek to Florida. We won't get to see any more space shuttle launches but there is always Disney World, the manatees, and good friends.