Our Family's New Christmas Present

Here I am, world!

Love this newborn shot with the baby still coated in vernix.

We welcomed a new baby this Christmas. My brother at the age of 38 had his first baby - well, his wife did all the work, but he would sure like to take the credit. I was able to be doula for my sister-in-law along with my sister. She did such a fantastic job. The OB ruptured her membranes at 3+ cm and 21 minutes later, the baby was born. It went so quickly that the doctor didn't make it in time. The L&D nurse did a wonderful job. Notice, she didn't even have time to put on her 2nd glove. Here are a couple of my favorite shots.

baby boy, 8 lb 3 oz


Weekend Musings

Yesterday, we went to friends' property to get our Noble Fir Christmas tree. It was a gorgeous day and we could see Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood from their yard. I silently prayed for the 3 mountain climbers who were still missing on Mt. Hood. There have been other times people have been missing on the mountain and it is always so weird to be so close to the mountain, to see it's majestic beauty and know that at the same time people could be suffering that very moment - very tragic.

Then we spent several hours at the house cleaning, packing, ripping up carpet that got flooded again with the most recent storm. There must be so much water beneath our house. It stinks very badly now. I dislike being there.

We returned the the apartment and heard a bang. A ball of fire shot up in the air and then all of the power went out. Turns out there was an explosion at a substation and the power company shut off the electricity to about 50 thousand customers. The kids were very excited to see the fire, so the older ones took off down the block to get a better glimpse of inferno. Dh and I followed behind with the little ones. We got back to the apartment realizing that we could be wtihout power for days since there were already still thousands without power from Thursday's storm. Of course we were not prepared for no electricity, so we went to the store for candles, flashlight/batteries and breakfast before church. Can one have enough excitement in a week? Thankfully, power was restored around 12:30 am.

Sadly, after church today, we found out that one of the climbers had been found dead. This is so sad - along with the recent tragic story of the Kim family.

On a lighter note, here is the first of our baking - molasses cookies. They are/were wonderful. More to come. And on this day, I became the mother of a 20-yr old. Is that even possible? Surely not.


Pompoms Everywhere

We went on the pompom bandwagon. It was the perfect craft for us in our temporary housing. The kids from 16 on down all loved putting them together. After they were strung, there of course were extras laying around. You see what happens when you have boys and their toys. Doesn't every boy need pink pompoms to transport in their matchbox trucks?


Sharing Your Gifts

Last Sunday, our three violinists played Christmas carols with their Suzuki violin class at a retirement community. It was a beautiful program. I love to have the children visit the elderly. They get so much joy in seeing young people.

My mom really modeled for me to have respect for the elderly. She took me to retirement homes to visit elderly relatives when I was young. And most recently, she took care of her mother who was suffering from Alzheimers until her death.

When I was around 11 years old, I had a paper route. I delivered papers at an assisted living facility. When I collected the $$, sometimes I was invited in their rooms and we would chat a bit. I can't imagine my children collecting $$ for a paper route now, and especially wouldn't like the idea of them going inside people's rooms or homes, but it was different back then - or at least we were all naive. Anyway, as we would share stories, some of the residences found out that I played the piano and wanted to hear me play. So, one time, I stuck my piano music in my bag of newspapers and when the route was finished, I played some pieces for a handful of residences. They enjoyed hearing me play - mistakes and all. I eventually realized that these people were so anxious to see a young person, it didn't matter what was played. I decided that I would practice my lessons at the retirement facility - scales and all! They didn't care.

So, it gives me great joy to see my children using their music abilities and time to be a blessing to others. What a waste to play music just for yourself when you can bring a little sunshine to others.
Here are a couple pics. This is the chaplain who interviewed our 7-yr old. He didn't seem to have any stage fright - lol.

Ok - working on a laptop, not having my photo editing software to crop is a pain - lol.


Moved in

We are finally settling in to our new 3 bedroom apt. It is a 3-story townhouse.

I have come to realize after living here with only the bare necessities that we have way too much stuff at home. I will be spending a few hours each day packing up and getting rid of the excess that has been accumulating over the last 6 years. It will be a daunting task, but I know it will feel so good to have it done.

I just realized that I left my cord in the computer to upload pictures. I'll get that next trip. I am so thankful for insurance. We are probably going to be living here for 4-6 wks.

My girls made it their mission to find the Christmas decorations and have already put up lights and decorations around the place. They decorated their room, too. It's nice to have girls who want to decorate. Oh, and we had to bring all of our baking stuff over here - baking stones, Cuisinart, etc. We will be baking soon. How can you have Christmas without baking?

More later . .


New Digs

Talked to dh after the meeting with the insurance guy. I'm supposed to find temporary housing. I would say yippee, but it's not all that yippee considering it's Christmas, but it will be a different Christmas and I hope it is a very special one.

Smoov (Stacy) posted a comment about what the victims of Hurricane Katrina must have gone through. First there was a smaller area in the closet downstairs that flooded - maybe 4 x 6 area. My wedding dress was professionally packed and in that closet. When there was the first puddle, it barely missed the dress and then it dried up again for hours. Later, I checked the closet and water was gushing in like a stream and there was no way to shut it off and the thought occurred to me that this water could go through the entire house. It flooded the whole length of the closet - probably 4 x 15-ft area and this time, the wedding dress box got wet. Thankfully, the inner box was fine. I had no clue that there was going to be more flooding or I would have moved it in the first place. After that, I started moving important things to higher ground. But my mind did drift to the victims of Katrina and the utter helplessness they must have felt. I get to find temporary housing nearby. There was no temporary shelter nearby for them. I can't imagine what they went through. We are so blessed and frankly spoiled rotten. When I go whining again, please redirect me to this post. We have our health, seven beautiful children, food, insurance. Life is good!


More Whining and a Little Fun

Plumber came yesterday and today. Yesterday's visit was useless since the guy didn't bring the right size camera and basically did nothing. Today, we had a proficient plumber who found at least part of the problem and a big one at that. The main line has to be replaced which means taking up carpet, Pergo-type flooring and going 2 feet into the concrete foundation. We're still trying to figure out what insurance will and will not pay. Whatever it is, I did not like the first estimate of $6,900 (which only covers the plumbing, not replacing flooring). This is going to be a long process. Everybody is booked for at least 2 wks. The plumber said I can run the washing machine at half-load. I just did a load and the walk-in closet started flooding again. I'm afraid to run the dishwasher. The insurance adjuster who was supposed to come 2 days ago is finally coming tomorrow. I've got some issues to bring to his attention:

1. Will you pay for us to move into temporary housing while this is being done (demo and/or installing new flooring)? We've been living in stench for 6 days now. The stench is not going away because each time we do laundry or dishes (which is often with a family of 9), water floods back into the room.

2. We have children who have been exposed to bacteria on the carpeting, wood flooring, etc, and a baby who only knows how to crawl. This is a health hazard.

3. The carpet in the family room appears dry now, but 1/3 of the carpeting was sopping wet from this waste water as well as underneath the cabinets. The carpet must be removed because it is a health hazard and how can we verify that it is dry underneath the cabinets? We do not want to deal with mold as we have mold allergies.

4. We homeschool, how can we continue schooling with all the work being done and the stench?

5. We are concerned about the water line from the laundry room down - this part was not looked at with the camera. The walk-in closet was flooded with only a half-load of laundry after pipe was supposedly cleaned out.

Back to the plumber - he said that the pipes could have corroded from powdered laundry detergent and highly recommended that I switch to liquid detergent. Have you heard of that before? I use maybe 1/4 cup per load because I've noticed it doesn't make a difference when using more. He said the damage could have been from the previous owners.

Knitting sanity: Tonight I left the children downstairs watching Green Acres (what a weird show) went upstairs to peace and quiet (and no stench) and started working on a Christmas stocking for Bunny (4-yr old). I ordered a kit and love it. The kit uses Bartlettyarn from Maine. Bartlettyarn was one of the first yarns I used when first learning how to knit and living in Maine. The rich lanolin smell brings back great memories.

On a much nicer note - this baby is such fun. Here he is only 9 months old and his favorite pasttime is to climb on the wicker rocking chair. He loves to stand on the chair holding on to the back while rocking back and forth - b . . i . . g rocking, not little rocking. He smiles and hums while rocking. He's like little Tarzan.


Big, Bad, Bummer

Somewhere there is a leak in our house - we think from the foundation. On Friday, we noticed that water had soaked about one-third of the carpet in the family room (where we primarily hang out) and underneath the 20+ foot wall of built in cabinets we had installed. This morning, J told me about a bad smell in our extra room. There's something - mildew/mold - that smells bad on the other side of the house where we store sleeping bags/suitcases. Thankfully, the floor is just concrete there.

All weekend we have soaked up the carpet with towels, put it in the washing machine's spin cycle, put back on the floor, etc.

Can I come to your house and knit instead? I'll be nice and quiet and you won't even notice me. Oh, I do have to bring my baby along, but he's a good baby. Everybody says so. I'll even make some of that pecan/chocolate chip pie I made the other day. Anyone?

Updated: We now think the problem is a broken pipe. After I posted the above, the storage room filled with gross-smelling sludge. Then water poured in through the corner crack where the concrete slab meets the wall. This is a big nasty mess - not one anyone would like, but especially with a 9-month old who only crawls.

Appraiser is coming out today or tomorrow and plumber should be here between 2-4 today. Five days of replacing wet towels on the floor every hour or so is getting very old.

I miss normal boy chaos. That was easy compared to this.


Before and After

She's been waiting a long time for this. Do you see? Here are the before and after shots:


Thanksgiving at Our Home

We had a rare treasure - a Thanksgiving all by ourselves. As much as we love having people over for Thanksgiving or going someplace else, it's an especially nice treat to work together as a family to prepare our special meal. The children helped with meal preparations and decorations and that is always a precious time together.

Our decorations always start with these little figurines I made probably in 1992:

Next, we have our favorite menu items - not necessarily ones that I had growing up, but ones collected from the various places we have lived during our 20+ years of marriage. Here's our favorite sweet potato casserole from my friend Martha in Georgia:

Dh always does the bird and stuffing and there are always little "helpers" gathered around testing samples.

Hugs are always a pleasant interruption. The pies can wait one more minute in the oven.

What it looks like at our dinner table minus baby and 19-yr old picture taker.

And we topped it off with pies. This year we had pumpkin and pecan pies. The pecan pie was especially good. I revised my favorite recipe by adding just a bit of semi-sweet chocolate chips. I think we have a new favorite.

We have much to be thankful for. Thank you, God for all your blessings to us! We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones.



I started this pullover last week: Child's Placket-Neck Pullover. It is from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. I just googled to make sure I had the title right and look what I found Corrections for Child's Placket-Neck Pullover

Whew - I'm glad I hadn't gone too far in this project. The corrected version has me casting on 123 stitches and the other version has 122 for the 1-2 yr size. That's an easy "fix". I am making this for my brother's first baby using Blue Moon Worsted Wear 100% Superwash Merino, colorway Bronze. This yarn is wonderful to work with and I love the colorway. I purchased it at Farmhouse Knits in Beaverton.


Stocking Ornament

Finished this felted Christmas stocking using red Galway yarn. It seemed to be missing something, so gold star nailheads were added. I found the pattern on eBay.


Sometimes motherhood is just not fun

Last week, dh and I were taking a nap when our 9-yr old woke us up saying that PJ was hurt. We have a child's gate at the bottom of our stairs. When PJ is sleeping, sometimes we use a bungee cord to keep it open (because it's a challenge to open). The door was closed and the bungee cord was just hanging and PJ crawled over to it. He's at the stage where everything goes in the mouth and he put the end of the bungee cord into his mouth . . . . and . . it . as in the hook, yes, the hook. . got. . . stuck, . . .very. . . stuck . . inside. . . .his. . . cheek (yes, like a hook caught in a fish). I'm shivering just thinking about it. When we got there, my 19-yr old had finally gotten it out, but it nearly went through his cheek. He would not let me look in his mouth. I pried his mouth open and could only see one place where it was punctured, but the following day, I found a gouge and the roof of his mouth was pretty raw, too. I watched him like a hawk for the next couple days to make sure there was no infection. You can see the bruise on his left cheek - the bruise is coming from the inside of his mouth. Poor baby. Bungee cord is no more. I am too old for this . . . really!


Flop #1 and Flop #2

I got this cute bonnet pattern from a book I checked out at the library. I'm kicking myself for not remembering the title. Anyway, this was a quick knit, but I don't like it. The garter stitch ribbing on the bottom does not work well. It should have been written to knit with smaller needles on that part or pick up less stitches. I was hoping to make my baby's head fit into it, but it really looks funny on him. I think I will actually rip out the whole thing. Ho-hum.

Flop #2: I thought I'd make PJ a helmet because he has been pulling hats off his head. I have a vintage pattern and made Size 4. My baby is 9 months, yes he was born quite large (13 pounds), but still, one would think Size 4 would fit. It didn't - it was way too small. F.R.O.G!


Birthday Girl

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Pearly just celebrated her 12th birthday. Here she is with new presents which happened to be pink.

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And here is little brother teasing her about her PINK presents. Brothers! Life would be pretty boring without teasing brothers.


Busy Day

We had a gorgeous day today. Spent some time out in the front yard gardening and a few hours making more applesauce and pear sauce. Pearly had a volleyball tournament all day, so I quickly grabbed some yarn and pattern for brainless project - you know a project that you can start and stop easily when interrupted. Unfortunately, only this amount was accomplished because I was asked to be scorekeeper. Oh well!
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Pearly's team placed 2nd in the tournament, but more importantly, the kids did such a great job and showed great sportsmanship. The first tournament, they lost every game, so this was quite an improvement.

Every once in a while, PJ indulges me with some cuddling. A cuddly baby is a rare thing in our household. Only one other baby (out of 7) has been a cuddler, so everything stops when he's in the mood to cuddle. This is pure bliss I tell you!

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Pepper Jelly Update

Despite adding 5 cayenne peppers to increase the heat index from my first batch of pepper jelly, this batch still does not have the kick I want. Here's the recipe I used. Pepper Jelly

Next time, I will add some habenero peppers. Here's an interesting heat index chart for peppers. Habeneros are definitely the hottest pepper. Scoville Pepper Scale

I have been pondering why the jelly didn't have a "kick" when I increased the hot peppers. But thinking back, when I was about 9 month pregnant with our first baby, we went to a Chinese restaurant. There was something on my plate that looked like a shriveled up mushroom. I anxiously put it in my mouth ready to savor it when all of a sudden I thought my head would explode. My mom looked at me and saw my eyes watering and my face completely red. She later told me she thought I'd go into labor. That mushroom was a hot pepper of some kind. I tried water, rice, soy sauce, anything, but nothing was taking away the heat. Finally, the waitress suggested a teaspoon of white sugar. The sugar instantly cut the heat.

Now it makes sense why my pepper jelly isn't producing the strong heat effect I have wanted - the sugar is diminising its impact. Interestingly, when I use even 1/4 of the peppers for my salsa recipe, it's quite hot (there's hardly any sugar in the recipe) - in fact, much hotter than the pepper jelly.

Learn something new everyday.


Pepper Jelly

My girlfriend made some pepper jelly last week and boy was I hooked. We put it on a whole wheat cracker with cream cheese. Here's the first batch I made on Saturday. I'm making more today as well as hopefully finishing up the last of the applesauce and pear sauce.

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We're still busy harvesting the last of our garden produce and fruit. Last week we processed grapes. We got a few gallons of grape juice (pictured). We have 3 colors of grapes - white, pink, and Concord. I don't know if the white and pink are varieties of Concord or not (must make mental note to look that up). For the first time this year, we made grape jelly - actually 19-yr old made it. It was out of this world. Next year, we will focus our efforts on making jelly! It's very easy to make using our juicer.

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Grape Juice

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Grape Jelly

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Sampling of white grapes

Here's the crazy thing - our grape vines decided to grow waaay high vertical - over 2 stories high in the trees next to our property line.

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You can see my daughter standing on the roof of our trailer getting what she could. The grapes actually traveled a good 15 feet taller than that.

There were quite a few grapes that we couldn't reach. You can see the bowl/bucket of grapes on the ground (only a small fraction of harvested grapes) and our neighbors trees. The grapes grew nearly to the top of the tree in the middle of the picture.

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Next year we will have to try to direct the grapevines to grow horizontally!


Pumpkin Patch

Just got back from the pumpkin patch. It was HOT in October! Here's my favorite punkin.

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Looking down on my baby sleeping in his crib. . .

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Can you sleep in that position? Forget that - can you even GET in that position? LOL


Having Fun in the Fall

We've had an absolutely gorgeous week - weather in the low 80s. The kids have been having so much fun playing outside. It doesn't get better than this.

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Getting in the Mood

I have seriously been neglecting my knitting. There were a few projects that were put aside because of stumbling blocks - infant vest (better hurry up on that one with my baby growing so fast) and an infant girl sweater.

Pearly's volleyball season has just started, so I'll be able to take some knitting along to the games. I have been so itching to knit. I think socks are calling my name.

I recently found this sweater. I began knitting it probably 8 years ago using a 50s pattern book. The pattern suggested crocheting the button bands. I did not like that at all, so they were knit instead. I'm still not pleased with the tension on the buttonbands and the buttons are a little small for the button holes, so I may redo it, but it's nice to see a baby actually wearing something that was put in a basket for so many years. And - it still has growing room - yeah!

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Not the greatest pic, but you get the idea of the sweater. And meet my 1st baby who loves his pacifier. Five of my babies were long-term finger/thumb suckers and one sucked a blanket. This little guy is hooked on his paci. I wish we could keep it to just sleeping time, but he seems to have such a strong sucking need. Don't ask me how many pacifiers we've bought now. I swear they have feet.


Four Years Old

Bunny is growing up. We celebrated his 4th birthday recently. (Another friend was celebrating her birthday with us, too, so that's why the extra candle is in there.)

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One of his gifts was this old wooden animal/farm family set. There are all kinds of cows, pigs, horses, trees, chickens, lambs, even a farmer and his family. I have no idea how old this it, but it is definitely old school and soooo much better than the typical plastic toys we find today. The whole set was . . . . . two bucks. Gotta love a deal like that! We are definitely going to keep this set around for future grandchildren. They just don't make stuff like this anymore, do they?

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Today's Agenda

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I spent just a few minutes picking these in the garden this morning. Our goal was to grow enough tomatoes/peppers to make lots of salsa. This very large bowl is just the beginnings of what is left in the garden. We are going to be busy. (I don't know how the ingredients got hyperlinked and can't figure out how to take the underlines out on Blogger - sorry!)

Here's the recipe I use:
8 cups tomatoes, peeled,chopped and drained
2 1/2 cups onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups green peppers
1 cup jalapeno peppers, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons pepper
1/8 cup canning salt

1/3 cup sugar (I use less)
1/3 cup vinegar

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste

Mix all together and bring to a slow boil for 10 min.
Seal in jars and cook in hot water bath for 10 min.


Peppers, Purple Petunias, and Present

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My mom gave me a belated birthday present she has been working on. She crocheted this beautiful doily. I love it! I don't know how to crochet much - and especially don't know how to read a pattern. She will be retiring in a few months and I am hoping that she will teach me how to crochet and I will teach her how to knit. I can't wait.

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I thought this was pretty - purple Petunias among the peppers.


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