Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Magic Necklace

DSC_1474 WAs I’ve mentioned before, since the first of February, Penelope has gotten up at least once a night, typically around 2:00 a.m.  Recently, it became more like twice a night.  Some nights it was 3 times a night.  In my opinion, one can survive indefinitely getting up just once each night.  Not without being tired, but survive and function.  However, I don’t think it’s possible to get up more than once a night for any extended period of time and continue to function properly.  Seeing an adorable baby each time I get up helps, of course.  But the lack of a full night’s rest just cannot be good for either of us.

DSC_1478 WI’ve been convinced that Penelope isn’t sleeping well due to pain.  I even started keeping her on Tylenol throughout the night which helped some, but didn’t quite do the trick.  Plus I don’t like keeping her on medication.  I feel like Penelope, for whatever reason, just didn’t handle her teething (or any other pain, like the ear infections) very well.  And Penelope was not a quiet sleeper.  She would wake up and fuss throughout the night.  I know I was tired from waking up with it, so I know that she had to be tired, too.  

DSC_1481 WI’ve tried all the teething tricks I could come up with.  I just didn’t have these problems with the big kids.  Henry and Rosemary would just all of the sudden have a few teeth.  Piper wasn’t a particularly happy teether, but she wasn’t in Penelope’s league.  Then I remembered how one of my friend’s daughter used to wear this really cute necklace that I liked and later learned was a teething necklace. 

DSC_1488 W So I googled “teething necklace” and started reading about amber necklaces.  I checked in with my friend and asked for her thoughts.  Amber is supposed to have pain relief properties and help with all sorts of ailments.  I’ve had a cold for a couple of months (but can’t take anything to help with it due to nursing), and I’ve been dealing with headaches (which I think are due to lack of sleep) for a while.  I decided that I needed an amber necklace, too!  I finally bought necklaces for both of us.

DSC_1494 W Our necklaces were delivered the Wednesday before last.  Penelope and I wore our necklaces all day Thursday.  I thought my headaches may be a little better, but figured it was all in my head.  Then that night I put Penelope in bed at her normal bedtime and she slept ALL NIGHT and got up at 7:15 the next morning.  And there was no fussing throughout the night, just occasional happy baby sounds.  The next night I had to nurse her when we woke her up checking on her before we went to bed, but then she slept until 8:00 a.m. without fussing.  The same thing happened the next night.  And she has been SUCH a happy baby!

DSC_1497 W Now there several nights since then that I’ve gotten up with her, but one night it was for some bad gas and the other nights as her 6th tooth was making its way through her gums.  But still no restlessness and fussiness throughout the night – just a one time thing usually around 11:00 p.m. when Penelope just needed nursing for a little comfort.  There is a huge difference in Penelope’s disposition since she started wearing her necklace.

Gary calls it the “magic necklace”!  Maybe it is magic.  Whatever it is, I’ll take it if it results in a very happy baby and an (almost) full night’s sleep for us all!!  If nothing else, it’s pretty darned cute!

P.S.  I have ordered amber necklaces for all the kids now.  They all wanted one (no surprise there) and based on our experiences so far, I think everyone needs to have an amber necklace around just in case!

Friday, May 27, 2011

If You Have a Blog . . .

. . . there are three things that I think you need to know about:  Statcounter, Windows Live Writer, and Blurb

Statcounter (which has a free option that I use) is important because (1) you know how many blog hits you have, which is just cool, and (2) you can keep up with who visits your blog.  I can even tell from what city your visitors are logging on, their IP addresses, their internet providers, what websites were used to find my blog, and what websites my visitors leave my blog to visit.  I really like that I know “who” is reading our blog, especially if I get some weird (or rude) comments. 

And then you have Windows Live Writer.  This is FREE software that you download.  You can draft your blog posts offline with this software.  The most amazing part of it is that you can make your photos much larger than Blogger generally allows without a special HTML code.  When you upload your photos, if you choose, you can automatically watermark your photos.  Also, uploading photos takes a fraction of the time that it takes on Blogger and your photos are automatically resized for the web, which makes your photos look better.  This is a serious timesaver and really changed the way I blog.  Since I learned about Windows Live Writer from Krystyn of Krizzy Designs (who designed my blog), I’ve almost exclusively used it for blog posting. 

Blurb is important so that you can put your blog down on paper.  Or a nice image-wrapped hardbound book. . . .

DSC_0248 W DSC_0254 W DSC_0265 WBlurb has amazingly user-friendly software, and an extremely high quality end product.  I downloaded the Blurb software, and used it to pull in the blog posts I selected (I did a blog book for 2008, one for the first half of 2009, one for the second half of 2009, and one for 2010).  Then I rearranged the posts and photos.  This did take a lot of time, but it was not difficult by any means.  I started my first blog book in mid-February and finished them less than 2 months later, so it wasn’t that bad.  Then I uploaded my books and a week later I had them in print. 

DSC_0260 W DSC_0263 W The blog seems so much more real in print. 

In 2010, I made 79 blog posts and uploaded almost 1,000 photos on the blog.  In 2009, I made 132 blog posts and uploaded almost as many photos as in 2010.  I love the digital age, and I love how easy it is to share and publish online.  However, there is something about being able to hold it all in your hand.  It definitely gives me yet another reason to continue blogging regularly.  I hope that one day our kids will be my age and read about their childhood from my point of view, and hopefully appreciate this documentation of their early lives. 

After that, I had to twist Gary’s arm but he eventually agreed to let me make and order a blog book of his blog. 

DSC_0969 W DSC_0970 WThe next documentation project is actually putting all those photos I’ve printed from 2008, 2009, and 2010 into albums.  That may take a while, but I’ll get caught up and hopefully stay caught up! 

One more thing that you should do if you have a blog is BACK UP your blog.  There are a couple of ways to do this.  One is to use BlogBooker to do it, which is something I found while I was looking for a way to make a blog book.  With this method, you just create a pdf book.  You can also print the pdf book, but I far preferred the customization available with Blurb.  Another way to back-up is recommended by Rita with Coffee Shop here.  I use BOTH. 

If you have a blog, I hope this helped.  And if you have any tips for me, I’d love to hear them! 

Monday, May 23, 2011

First Trip to Moss Rock Preserve

On Saturday we headed to Moss Rock Preserve.  We had a GREAT time.  We told the big kids that we would go hiking as soon as Penelope work up from her nap, and the kids were crazy excited about it.  Penelope was pretty happy herself.

Penelope’s newest thing is waving.  My mom was here last week and taught Penelope how to wave.  Penelope LOVES showing off her new skill and just loves it when someone waves at her so that she can wave back.  She definitely entertained the people behind us at church yesterday.  Here she is showing off her new skills:

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Gary had actually gotten a new “baby backpack” for his birthday, but it isn’t going to work out and he is going to return it.  He has found a different baby carrier and is going to try that one out instead.  It just takes a while to find the right baby carrier for hiking!  For now, he’s making due with the one we have. . . .

DSC_1322 WWe told the kids that we were going to go look at some big rocks.  They seemed excited.  However, they weren’t that excited about what we thought were the big rocks.  Instead, they got more excited about the one-pound rocks that they could pick up and carry around.  I took some photos of them with the big rocks anyway.

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After we hiked for a bit, and sat and had some water, we spent some time playing and climbing and running – and shaking trees.  I’m not sure why shaking trees was so exciting, but the kids loved it. 

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We will definitely be heading back to Moss Rock Preserve soon!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

This Weekend

Overall, this past weekend was really great.  The best part is that it was just a normal weekend.  We didn’t do anything that “special,” but just had a really nice time.  On Friday night we had pizza night with Auntie Ann.  Saturday morning we had breakfast and Penelope had a nap, then we all went hiking at Moss Rock Preserve.  The kids had a blast and didn’t want to leave, but we eventually convinced them it was time to go and we grabbed some great Mexican food on the way home.  Then everyone took a nap.

This morning we got up early and got ready for church.  Auntie Ann joined us.  Then after church we got really brave and all went to the parish picnic after church.  We had some barbecue and the kids jumped in the bouncy houses.  There was also cotton candy, but for some reason the kids absolutely wouldn’t eat it.  It was bizarre.  We kept telling them how great it was but they’d have nothing to do with it.  We came home, and while the kids napped, Auntie Ann and I ran some errands and went to the grocery store.  Then the normal weekend laundry, cleaning, and cooking.  I’m sitting here with most of my home to do list done, slightly sore from yesterday’s hike, and can’t help but hope that we have many, many more weekends like this ahead of us.  I’m especially looking forward to the long weekend next weekend. 

I’ll leave you with a sneak peek of the photos from our hike yesterday, with more to come later this week. . . .

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Gary’s Birthday Weekend

This past Saturday was Gary’s birthday!  Out of respect for Gary’s privacy, I will not disclose Gary’s age.  We started celebrating on Friday night when we had some strawberry cake. . . .

DSC_0995 W I told Gary that on Saturday we would do whatever he wanted to do.  He decided that he wanted to go to Tannehill State Park. 

After breakfast, I put the big girls’ hair into pigtails.  I had to give Piper a sucker to convince her to let me put her hair into pigtails.  I had to give Rosemary TWO suckers.  Somehow I even ended up giving Henry a sucker, and he wasn’t even in the running to get some pigtails.

Then when Penelope woke up from her nap on Saturday morning we all took off.  We stopped on the way at Bojangles to grab a box of chicken and biscuits.  Until Saturday, we’ve never just let the kids eat a leg or whatever of chicken, but instead we would take the chicken off the bone for them.  We had to do a lot of explaining about not eating the bone. 

DSC_1020 W DSC_1022 WBut the kids eventually figured it all out.  And then they figured out that they could feed some of their biscuits to the ducks.  DSC_1037 WDSC_1046 WAfter the ducks were nice and full, we started our hike.  The kids were thrilled.

DSC_1059 W Especially Penelope.  She LOVED being in the carrier, and spent the first part of the hike laughing and giggling and kicking her legs.

DSC_1067 W She seemed pretty happy to be in one place, but the kids loved being able to run everywhere.  Though Rosemary wasn’t very fond of the feel of her pigtails bouncing while she ran.  She kept holding onto them while running.

DSC_1073 W We spent most of our hike near water, and we stopped a lot just to look and enjoy our surroundings.

DSC_1078 W DSC_1080 W DSC_1093 W DSC_1101 W DSC_1109 W DSC_1117 W DSC_1121 WDSC_1131 W The kids really seemed to be soaking in all the nature.

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And we spent some time just hanging out together.

DSC_1152 W Eventually the kids started to get a little tired.  They fought it, but you could see that we were going to have to leave sooner rather than later.

DSC_1156 W DSC_1167 W DSC_1172 W DSC_1180 W DSC_1191 W But everyone perked up a bit when we found a bug for our bug jar.

DSC_1208 W DSC_1209 W DSC_1220 W DSC_1236 W DSC_1239 WBut even with the bug and the beautiful weather, and despite the wonderful day that we were having, we knew that we were going to have to go home soon.  But every time we asked Henry or Rosemary if they were ready go to, they said, “No go!  No go!!”  Piper was a little more quiet and I think she was secretly wishing for her afternoon nap.

DSC_1243 WDSC_1249 W DSC_1253 W DSC_1263 W DSC_1267 W DSC_1272 W Later that night, Auntie Ann came over and kept the kids while we went out to dinner.  Gary declared it a perfect birthday.  I have to agree.  Happy Birthday, Gary!!!