Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jackson Vandervort

Announcing the birth of our fourth child!
Jackson Vandervort
5:01pm, October 19, 2012
7 lbs 13 oz, 19.75in

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension

I suppose it's about time for me to update on how the Next Vandervort (Sixth Vandervort? Number Four?) is gestating. For the most part, he's getting along well in there. On the other hand, my general "life status" is busy, stressed, etc., which is making my blood pressure high at times.

It's not always high, but high at the doctor's office twice in a row means I've suddenly gone from a normal fourth pregnancy to a "higher risk" fourth pregnancy. Not so high risk that my regular doctor has referred me to the perinatologists at Magee, but higher risk than normal = more doctor's appointments, more tests, more everything ... except rest.

So right now I'm seeing my doctor twice a week and at those appointments I have to have a Non-Stress Test.  I also had to do a 24-hour urine catch test and have a whole bunch of blood work, an ultrasound to check on baby growth... And I have to take my blood pressure at home multiple times a day.

Everything is fine. No test so far has had any elevated level of concern at all. All my blood pressure readings at home are totally normal. It's only high in the doctor's office, yet, I am still signed up for all of the "extras." So they want me to chill out, but they've added all kinds of extras to my days. Coordinating care for Aaron & Lauren during all of this, plus making sure I'm done so I can get Ian off the bus... taking blood pressures... It's a lot to keep up with on top of all the other things I do. Of course I will do it and I will try to stay positive about it. It could be so much worse. We're very blessed and I know that. It doesn't make it easier, though.

I'm SO tired.

Oh, and I gave up coffee/caffeine. So there's that, too.

I'm currently holding steady at 6 pounds of total weight gain, measuring right on schedule, baby is head down & in the 65th percentile for growth.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ian's first day: Part 2.

Perhaps I shouldn't write the summary of part 2 tonight because I'm pretty sure just writing it down is going to send me into another fit of tears.

Ian didn't have a very good day according to his report when he got home. However, he got a smiley face from the teacher on his daily report (as opposed to the indifferent face or the sad face) so I don't really know what to think. All I know for sure is that Ian was smiling when he got off the bus, but cried on the way home from the bus stop. I'm pretty sure most of his disappointment with day had to do with the unfamiliar and later on, being tired. And I'm praying he has a better day tomorrow. You should pray too.

I feel so bad for him. I wish I could have been there to help him through the frustrating parts. To reassure him that it wouldn't always be hard like that. I know I can't keep him from feeling bad forever, but that doesn't make a "bad" first day any easier to take. I know he probably won't remember this day when he's 30. (I don't remember my first day of Kindergarten, do you? I only remember my shiny new red back pack that was my very own...not a hand me down.) But I don't ever want him to be sad or frustrated or scared.

Onward to better days, Lord willing. Hopefully a good night's sleep puts a whole new spin on things in the morning.

Ian's First Day... Part 1

We had pumpkin pie and bacon for breakfast. We packed his lunch and snack and made sure he had all the things he was supposed to have. We drove up the hill together as a family and saw him off on the bus...and we'll see him again later when we go get him off the bus.

We miss him.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


For months, I've been trying to wrap my brain around Ian going to kindergarten this year. How can he possibly be big enough? He's still little.

Tomorrow morning we'll take him to the bus stop and wave goodbye for the very first time. And my heart is breaking.

As I was reading to and rocking Lauren tonight, I realized I was sitting in the same exact chair where I rocked my very first baby for the very first time. My baby who is heading off into the big world tomorrow.

He's excited. He doesn't seem nervous at all. And maybe that makes me even more sad? I like having all my chicks in the nest. I might complain about it sometimes and I might pull my hair out while being driven to the brink of insanity by them, but they're my chicks and I like them here with me.

I don't want to send Ian off to spend the better part of his waking hours with someone else. I don't want someone else teaching him, watching his little hands create.

I'm really, really going to miss him.

I think you don't ever fully understand until the moment you're packing that very first lunch, locating and labeling all the supplies, helping him pick out what shirt he wants to wear. It's the first day of the rest of his life... his life where he's apart from me. And it's sad for me. And I'll probably cry most of the night. Hopefully I'll wake up tomorrow with a brave face and at least wait until the bus pulls away to sob into Roger's chest. How can we be here already? The night before Kindergarten.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Thoughts on Cooking "Fresh"

With the explosion of blogs written by home-cooks (vs. professional cooks) and Pinterest, I have been tempted and lured by freeze-ahead meals and meal planning. Here's why I don't do many freeze-ahead and extremely pre-planned meals:

1. I prefer "fresh" meals. I prefer the taste and the variety of meals that are prepared from never-frozen, available-right-now ingredients. I prefer the ingredients I use to be as minimally processed and have as few additives/preservatives as possible. I prefer local ingredients. A lot of the recipes I've seen for freeze-ahead and pre-planned meals include highly processed ingredients. I don't like that.

2. I find that having a pantry with staples (pastas, rices, canned tomato sauce, whole grain flours, etc.) and a freezer full of real meat* that I buy in bulk when it's on sale is as much "pre-planning" I need. And it's way more versatile.

3. On any given day I may have a lot or maybe just a little time to prepare dinner. On any give day I may be in the mood for a certain dinner. Why lock myself into a prepared schedule of dinners with little wiggle room because my grocery list that week didn't buy the ingredients I needed for a certain recipe? I do like the idea (and we did it for awhile, probably should start doing it again) where I might plan 7 meals for each week, but not dictate specifically which day each meal will be prepared until the day I make it. That's fine. That amount of variety works for me. I'm too laid-back to be held to a rigid calendar of food preparation.

4. I keep a few frozen casseroles on hand in case of emergency/desperation. That's all I need as far as completely and entirely prepared meals.

5. I like cooking. I would miss it if I prepared every single meal in the crock pot or in bulk ahead of time. Cooking is a stress reliever for me and I don't want a reason to stop spending those minutes each day doing it. A from-fresh-ingredients, home-cooked meal doesn't have to take hours. In fact, some of our most favorite dinners take less than 30 minutes. Even the busiest of people can do something like that.

6. I enjoy crock pot meals and when I was working full time I used my crock pot a lot. Well, a lot more than I do now, but even then, I prepped the crock pot in the morning before I left for work (yes, at 6:00am, while Roger was still snoozing away). I guess I'm just not a freeze-ahead girl. I certainly see why some would choose to be freeze-ahead-ers, but it's just not for me. Since I've been asked so much recently about the topic I decided I'd just put this out there.

*Real meat. Perhaps deserves a blog post of its own. Roger and I over the course of the last year or so have really decided it's worth it to buy local, free from saline solution, free from antibiotics, free from additives of any kind, never-frozen meat as much as possible. It tastes better. It feels better to know that we're eating better. It's a bit of a financial sacrifice, but to us, it's worth it.

Don't even get me started on the state of the food system in America. It's bananas. Highly processed, genetically modified bananas.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Blessings of Being a Stay at Home Mom

I read this post the other day and my reaction wasn't positive. I get what the author was saying, but in my opinion, there isn't really anything to feel guilty about. Of course I've felt the same way she does on certain points, but instead of letting myself feel guilty, I choose to count myself blessed beyond what words can convey. So I offer to you this:

The Blessings of Being a Stay at Home Mother
I feel blessed for being able to sit here and write.
I feel blessed when I texted my husband that my babies rolled over for the first time.
I feel blessed as I feel the sunshine boldly on my face while my children ride their bikes in circles around me.
I feel blessed for being able to paint pictures and play soccer with my children.
I feel blessed when I will watch my son's Kindergarten concert--sitting alone.
I feel blessed while I sip my morning coffee and check my emails.
I feel blessed while I go shopping and spend money that I did not earn.
I feel blessed for wasting my college education.
I feel blessed that I get to stay home while many other mother's have to go to work.
I feel blessed.
I feel blessed.
I feel blessed

The only other thing I have to say is that I don't feel guilty about spending the money that Roger earns because I feel that my contribution to our family right now is worth more than the money I might earn working outside the home. It does make me more conscious of how I spend money.
I'm not even sure why reading the "Guilty" post made me feel so passionately that I needed to write a response, but maybe the author will read it and realize that she shouldn't feel guilty about being a stay at home mom, she should feel blessed. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Peach Ice Cream

What is more delicious than making ice cream out of a fruit that is currently in season in your area? I'd have to say nothing! Right now, peaches are ripe in our area and boy are they tasty. I know some of you might not have the love of those golden beauties that I have, but you're going to have a hard time convincing me that they don't at least taste wonderful in ice cream.

Here's a quick recipe for you to try:

Susan's Peach Ice Cream
4 very ripe peaches
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Wash, peel, and puree the peaches. Stir in sugar, cream, and cinnamon. Stir until well combined. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Freeze using the directions on your ice cream freezer.

All natural. Homemade. Enjoy!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pin-Spiration: Homemade Iced Coffee

It used to be that I had to have a piping hot cup of coffee in the morning before I could really function. Then I was pregnant in the summer.

Now I'm just hot all the time and the thought of further heating up my body by drinking a hot drink in the morning just makes me...sweat. Enter the iced coffee. I came across this pin for easy cold-brewed coffee (no special tools needed!) and homemade coffee creamer too!

It's a pin-win!

I followed the recipe precisely the first time I made it (as I almost always do) and it came out awesome. After that I made some adjustments to suit my personal preferences. For instance, I don't have a pan or pot big enough to do an entire gallon, so I do a half a bag of beans and fill my big soup pot up to the brim. It's still plenty strong. Trust me. (The first time I made it with the full gallon and split it between two pots, but that's just more dishes to do and I really don't mind making it more often. Let's keep it fresh, people. I also use a reusable coffee filter because I find it a million times less messy than disposable coffee filters and a mesh strainer. Here's something similar to what we have:

On the creamer side of things, I discovered one day when I was out of creamer and about to make another batch that I didn't have any more evaporated milk. I used regular milk. Obviously this affects the expiration date of the creamer, but that's ok. I also store the creamer in a recycled store-bought creamer bottle. Finally, I use the fat-free versions of sweetened condensed and evaporated milks. It doesn't change anything but the fat content.

Recently I've taken to just a small spoonful of sugar in the coffee instead of creamer. This home cold-brewed  coffee is really that good. I recommend you try it!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cloth Diapering a Toddler: Switching to Bamboo Fitteds

It's different than cloth diapering a baby.

None of my cloth diapering mama friends were surprised to hear last month (just before Lauren turned 2) that our nighttime diapering situation drastically changed. We were Bumgenius 4.0 people. We have some other kinds of cloth diapers, but hands down, my favorite cloth diapers have been BG 4.0 (in snaps, fyi). I'm a Bumgenius fangirl. I'm not ashamed. Lauren wore those pocket diapers with just one microfiber insert (no doublers necessary) for almost two years without any problems at all. It was rare to have any leaking issues, even at night.

Imagine my surprise when she woke with a sopping wet bed and pajamas one morning. I thought it was a fluke and put her to bed in a regular old BumGenius the next night. And again she woke saturated. What was going on?

Turns out that toddler diapering is much different than infant diapering and we were actually behind the curve when it came to needing to change up the nighttime cloth system. We needed more absorbency. STAT.

Along the way, I picked up a pair of Bumboo Fitted diapers intending them for little brother in the fall. I'd never been keen on the idea of fitteds and covers, but I decided to give them a try. Bingo! It worked. Bumboo fitteds are made by Earth, Mom, & Baby and are made from Bamboo woven into silk. Bamboo is super absorbent, naturally antibacterial, and sustainable... like a cloth diaper wonder-fabric. The only downside is you do need to use a leak-proof cover over top. I've tried both Thirsties and Sweet Pea brand and I like the double-snap security of the Sweet Pea covers. They're a little cheaper than Thirsties too.

We also have two Babee Greens hemp diapers, but they're itchy to Lauren's sensitive skin and I have to include a fleece liner between the diaper and her skin. I was already annoyed with switching to a fitted and a cover, I don't like adding a liner in too. They are very absorbent, but I don't like them like the bamboo diapers.

We'll continue to use Bumgenius 4.0 during the day because I still love them. When little brother gets here, we'll diaper him in 4.0s too... until that fateful day when we wakes up saturated. If you're having nighttime wetting issues with your cloth diapers, perhaps you should give bamboo a try?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pin-Spiration: Travel Lego Box

I'm not going to lie. I'm hooked on Pinterest. I love it. When I joined, I thought it was just going to be another one of those things I joined, but never paid much attention to...boy was I wrong. It really is a great place to get ideas and save the ideas you come across. I mainly use it for recipes and craft ideas. I've been trying all sorts of cute and tasty pins this summer and I decided to share them with you... obviously, some don't work as well as others and that's something I'd like to share too. Here's one of my favorite pin-spired projects:

Our's isn't exactly the same. The main problem was procuring a slide-top box. I eventually found a photo-holder box that would work at a local craft store and then more on Hobby Lobby's website. I followed the rest of the instructions exactly. We painted it red, we used scissors to cut the blue Lego plate and I used regular old Krazy Glue to attach it. The project was finished in one afternoon and Ian absolutely loves his "little lego" box. He plays with it at home and also takes it to restaurants and on trips in the car.

This pin is a win! << So cheesy, I know, but it really is. If you have a little one who loves to do Legos and are looking for an interesting way to store them, this is a quick and easy idea for you! There's also the bonus that Ian watched me make it for him and seems to really appreciate the effort in "handmade by mommy." Awesome.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cleaning the House

This pretty much sums up life at the Vandervort's house right now!

Friday, June 8, 2012

It's A... Baby Update!

We had our 20 week ultrasound this morning and all appears to be well. The anatomy all looked good, no problems to report. There are definitely two kidneys, which we always love to hear. Baby was measuring 19 weeks 6 days today (and according to my due date, we are 20 weeks exactly today.) And it appears we have another mover and shaker. No calm babies for us. What would be the fun in that?!

Well there is one little thing...

What are we going to do with another...

Little BOY?!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Retaining Wall Renovation: Part 2- Preparations

Starting about a month ago, Roger had to make a list of all the materials we were going to need. He had to measure and calculate the number and type of stones, the equipment and tools, the food (ok, I did that), and the time it was going to take.

Here's his list:

Building Material
Bricks                 $5.55 0 $0.00
Caps                 $5.55 0 $0.00
Pins                    $0.34 0 $0.00
2a mod (ton)            $23.75 0 $0.00
2b washed (ton) $25.00 0 $0.00
Surebond Glue
Versalifter Rental      $35.00 3 $105.00

Total 1         $2,870.45

Dumpster Rental
10 Ft $285.00 1 $285.00

Wheelbarrow         $35.00 1 $35.00
Tamper (per day) $55.00 2 $110.00
Dingo (8 hours)         $105.00 6 $630.00

Pallet Charge         $15.00 13 $195.00
Pallet Return         $15.00 -13 -$195.00

Delivery (Bricks) $220.00 1 $0.00
Delivery (Stone) $25.00 0 $0.00

Food                 $300.00 1 $300.00

Total $4,335.45

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Retaining Wall Renovation: Part One

This is part one of a series that Roger is going to help me write about our retaining wall renovation project. These are the before photos. As you can see, the previous wall (which is who-knows how old...) is literally disintegrating before our eyes.

Starting tomorrow, our driveway will become a flurry of activity involving some sort of excavating device, 13 pallets of 80 pound-a-piece stones, sand, gravel, a huge dumpster, etc. Take your last look at the old, dilapidated thing, for it's days are seriously numbered. (I'd like to mention that what you see is exactly what was there when we bought this house almost eight years ago. It'was an awful gray monster then, too.)

On with the show!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ian's Preschool "Moving On" Ceremony

We celebrated Ian's preschool graduation on Wednesday. It's really hard to believe we have a tot that's already done with preschool and headed to Kindergarten in August. Where has the time gone?

Ian with his teachers after the ceremony

In front of the school sign, spring 2012

In front of the school sign, fall 2010, when Ian started Preschool

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Triple B Farms- Pick Your Own Strawberries Pittsburgh 2012

The strawberry crop seems to have come in a bit earlier than usual this year. Our favorite local produce farm opened for pick-your-own yesterday. Ian was up with the rooster this morning and I could tell long before 8am that we needed to get out of the house. Berry-picking we went!

When you arrive at Triple-B Farms, go into the shop and tell them you are there to pick strawberries.* They will give you a basket (you can also bring your own basket, I think) or three if you're crazy like we are, and lead you out to the driveway. There you will find a nice man waiting on a tractor that's hooked up to a covered hay wagon. Climb aboard and find a nice spot on a hay bale and get ready for your wagon ride to the berry field! (This is included in the cost of the pick-your-own berries.)

Once you've arrive at the field the nice man on the tractor will tell you which rows you can pick from and, if you need it, give you a quick lesson on proper berry picking technique so you don't harm the berry plants while you're getting the goodies. When you're done, stand to the side of the fields and wait for the wagon to swing back around to get you and take you back to the shop where you will have your berry baskets weighed and you will pay. 

*This is the procedure for weekday berry picking. On the weekends I think it is a little different and it is definitely different during their berry festival. 

After you've put your berries into your car, you can head back over to the playground, to feed the goats (you need quarters), look at the chickens, calf, and honey bees (can you find the queen? she has a white dot on her back this season!) and enjoy some more time on the farm.**

During the weekdays, the tube slides are not open (except to school groups) and there are no bounce houses or pony rides so be prepared for that. There also isn't any hot food in the food "barn" area. I'm not sure if they have food on regular weekends or only during festivals, but if I find out I will definitely update with the correct information. You can purchase some baked goods, assorted beef sticks, cold drinks, etc. in the shop. You can also pack your lunch and drinks and eat them on several picnic tables they have.

Also, since I always try to mention this, the only toilet facilities open to the public are porta-potties. There are a lot of porta-potties and they are probably the nicest porta potties you'll come across (complete with a baby changing station and running (cold) water faucet to wash your hands), but if you're not into the porta-potty thing, you're going to have to plan to hold it for awhile.

It's a great morning outing if you have a chance to take a trip there! Enjoy yourselves and don't forget to save some energy for when you get home... to make shortcakes and jam of course! 

**This is, of course, just the order I like to do things. I like to pick the strawberries before it gets too hot in the morning and then play, but if you'd rather play first and then pick, that's totally up to you! Just have fun and get delicious berries, that's what's important!

Monday, May 21, 2012

On Child-led Weaning

It's no secret I've breastfed all of our children. I'll admit that I wasn't into extended breastfeeding when I was just starting out with Ian. I set my sights on reaching six months and told myself I'd reassess at that point. Six months quickly came and went and breastfeeding was all we knew how to do, so we kept going. "But we'll definitely be done at a year. I'll never go beyond that."

A year came and went and I was still nursing Ian. Not as much, for sure, but it was how he calmed to go to sleep and when he got hurt. Plus I really enjoy the mandatory snuggles.Ian weaned at about 15 months old, when I was more than half way through my pregnancy with Aaron. We were on vacation and he had been only nursing at bedtime. He would nurse a little then drink milk from a bottle, then nurse a little, then drink from the bottle... one night he just didn't nurse. I didn't force the issue and he never asked again. It was really nice.

It went the same way with Aaron. He nursed until he was 15 months old and I was already pregnant with Lauren when he ended his nursing relationship with just not doing it one night at bedtime... and it was over.

Lauren has been a little more tricky because, for one, I wasn't pregnant when she was 15 months old... I wasn't sure how I was going to wean a baby without being pregnant! While night-weaning was definitely mother-led. Weaning in general has been totally up to Lauren. We have been practicing the "don't ask, don't refuse" method and she slowly became interested in other things and got comfort from hugs and and cuddles instead of nunnies. Today, she broke my heart a little:

She was having a tantrum about something and crawled into my lap. I offered her nunnies and she pushed my shirt down and said, "NO! STOP IT! NO!"

She still comes back for a little breast check occasionally, like maybe once day, but she's essentially done. It's been totally up to her and it's been really nice. I makes me happy to know that I didn't have to do anything to get to this point either! She's done it all on her own. She's ready to be done and that's great! (REALLY great. I'll be the first to admit that I'm disenchanted with breastfeeding after nearly 5 years of it...but I do it because I believe in it.) Let's put it down in the record books... Lauren breastfed until she was one day shy of 22 months old.

Bittersweet. Weaning is bittersweet for sure.

Friday, May 18, 2012

17 Weeks with #4

I had my 17 week OB appointment with the midwife that works for my doctor's office. My blood pressure is a little high. I'm talking a little high, but they're watching it like hawks, I swear! I have three other children ages five and under and we had to be out of the house, delivered to preschool (on Ian's snack day no less, so with enough watermelon and mini muffins for 18 little kids), then to the doctor's office all before 9:15 this morning. To say we were running around like crazy people was an understatement, so in my mind, that's why my BP was a little high. In fact, they took it a second time while I was still in the office and it was 118/84, which is ok... so can we get on with the high BP talk for now?

I didn't gain any weight. In fact, I've lost 2 pounds since February.

My belly is measuring right on for 17 weeks.

The baby's heart rate was 155bpm today.

Everything else looks good and we'll have our 20 week anatomy scan/ultrasound on June 8th.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Product Review: Cool Gear Travel Potty

The Cool Gear Travel Potty is a great buy for parents who like to get out and about with a potty training child. Actually, that's limiting it's use. It's a great potty for parents with young children, potty training, potty trained, still in diapers, etc.

This travel potty uses gallon-size zipper storage bags (Ziploc bags) that you place inside the potty seat. Your child uses the potty and then you can zip the bag shut and dispose of the waste. The blue/green sides are actually storage areas to keep wipes and extra zipper bags (and plastic grocery bags if you want to be a bit more discreet). The green/blue sides fold down and slide across the white seat area to make the potty a compact package that you can store just about anywhere. It even slides into the basket of a stroller, trust me, I know! It is entirely plastic and easy to clean. My only complaint about it, if I have to name one, is that the carry handle on ours came off. It's not a big deal because we never really carried it by the handle anyway, but it is something to mention, I suppose.

We keep our Cool Gear Potty in our van all the time. I can't tell you how many times we have been out at a park somewhere when the preschooler calls, "Mom! I have to pee! NOW!" only to find either the park has no bathrooms or the bathrooms are locked. (Or worse yet, there is a bathroom but it is so foul that even I would risk getting poison ivy on my bum to avoid using it. Seriously. What is it about porta-potties that people can't seem to get their pee into the hole? I mean, if everyone used it like it was a regular potty, it wouldn't get disgusting and we wouldn't desire to not touch our butts to the seat. Gross.) So we bring out the go-go potty and all is right with the world again.

I can't say, although I've really considered it for myself a couple of times, how this potty would stand up to a heavier person trying to use it, but it works for our 40 pound five year old!

If you're looking for a good travel potty, this is it. I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Disclosure: This post contains a link to my Amazon affiliate page. Purchasing this product using the link provided does benefit me by giving me affiliate credits.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ian's 5 Year Well Visit

Ian had his 5 year well visit today and he's healthy as a horse.

He weighed 40 pounds (with his clothes on) and was 41 inches tall (without his shoes).

He had a good blood pressure and everything else checked out fine. Hooray for a healthy five year old!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Big News!

I took some photos of the kids this morning!

Baby Vandervort #4 is due October 26, 2012.

Monday, April 30, 2012

'Burgher Thoughts

  • Lauren has slept through the night the last two nights. A blessing from the Lord! (As Jonah, the Veggie Tales Asparagus would say...)
  • Ian had a baseball game yesterday and the team we were playing was really good. They made a play at 2nd base and got Ian out. I think it was his first time being tagged out and he didn't take it well. It's hard being a baseball mom when stuff like that happens. I couldn't do anything but talk him through it and continue to encourage him. I think it is an excellent lesson for him though... you don't always win in life. You just have to pick yourself up, wipe off your tears and try again! There is a really sweet boy on Ian's team named Jonathan who, at the tender age of 5 (or 6? he seems really mature...) was talking to Ian & encouraging him, too. "It's okay, Ian, I get out sometimes too. Now we get to go out in the field and tag them out. C'mon Ian, put on your glove! We need you out there!" What a sweetheart! If anyone is interested in coming to one of Ian's games, let me know and I'll send you the schedule.
  • Only two weeks until my niece Jessica and her fiance Steele's wedding! I don't have my dress back from alterations and I'm not sure why. It was supposed to be done last week. I guess I'll be calling them? Lauren's dress is all ready, we're just waiting on her hair bow to arrive from Etsy and I'm still searching for a pair of frilly little girl socks in off-white color. Anybody know of a good "frilly sock" store? I had a pair of off-white, dressy socks for Lauren when she was an infant, but I think they were a gift. I have no idea what store they came from! 
  • We were really thankful that both of our cars passed inspection this year with little work that needed done. Roger's 11 year old Camry, with 160something thousand miles on it, doesn't have functioning air conditioning anymore. Kinda stinks to learn that only when it is hot enough outside to need air conditioning. I feel bad for his summer parkway commutes...maybe we should start thinking about trading it in and getting something a little newer? It's been such a good car for us!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Traveling with Tots (Who don't really like riding in the car)

I was more worried about the actual car ride than anything else about the whole vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains. Really. Ian and Aaron are decent car riders now, but when they were babies neither liked riding in the car. Lauren, on the other hand, has hated the car since day one and continues to despise the car. She screams 60-80% of the time she spends in the car. We have no idea why. We've tried literally everything we can think to try to make her experience better, but not much has made any difference.

The first thing we did before this trip was prayed. A lot.

The second thing we did was prepare, prepare, prepare. We packed every variety of snack we thought the kids might be interested in eating. We bought new little toys, activities, and DVDs, which I wrapped in wrapping paper to extend the fun a little bit. We rearranged the car seats so that an adult could sit in the middle row and attend to the children better. We also had all the "usual" things like layered clothing, blankies, lovies, pillows, milk cups, water bottles, etc. I spent months getting all the stuff together for the trip. As soon as we got over Christmas, I started gathering the things we were going to take on the trip with us.

The third thing we did was completely load the car (and finish any housework we were planning on doing) the night before we were leaving. In the morning, we got up really early (5 AM), took showers and packed the last minute things like phone chargers and toiletries, and then loaded the drowsy kids into the van. We left the driveway at 6am. We drove in the dark for an hour and I really think this helped with the overall outcome of the trip. By the time we were all ready for our first stop (hungry for breakfast and ready to use the bathroom), we were well on our way! Lauren was tired from being up so early that she took a morning nap and an afternoon nap. We did this both on the way to and from our destination. We also tried to stop every hour and a half to two hours. That's about the maximum for preschooler bladder comfort and also really helped to break up the monotony of riding for hours. We watched for a playplace the entire way to Tennessee so we could let the children play, but we never found one when we were able to stop, but we did let them run in the grassy fields at rest stops. On the way home we did happen to find a McDonald's with a playground so they could play. Just 15 or 20 minutes in a playplace is enough to restart the boring-o-meter on a car trip.

In the end, it was a successful trip. Aside from meals and gas, we only spent a couple dollars in gas stations (Ian really wanted a gatorade toward the end of the ride home and we were desperate to keep the peace! Plus, how could Roger and I both get a pop to drink without allowing Ian to have a drink too?).

Am I anxious to do a road trip like that again? Nope, but I'm so very thankful it went as well as it did. I fully believe that our meticulous preparations made all the difference. So if you're wishing that you could take a vacation with a child who doesn't like riding in the car, I say, give it a shot...but make sure you put in the time in your preparations for the trip. Leave nothing to chance! We even had a barf bucket in the car! Don't forget the baby tylenol and something to block the sunshine from coming in the windows!

Best wishes!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy No. 5

Happy fifth birthday to my beloved firstborn!

Ian is such a fabulous young man.

We are so blessed to be his parents.

I know this is terribly short, but my days have become busier than I'd like and I just wanted to get it up here that we're celebrating Ian's big number five today! (And yesterday when he had his "kid party.") I should say, he didn't have any kind of family or adult party beyond just having his young boy cousins at his birthday party yesterday, so I shouldn't call it a kid party. But that's what it was... fourteen adorable, active friends of Ian joined him at My Little Outback for a grand old time! We're off to get tacos in a few minutes, which was Ian's choice for dinner, and then to his first baseball game.

I hope you're all having a lovely day too!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Great Smoky Mountains 2012

We just got back from a fabulous family vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains. I'll have to wait for my sister to upload some of her pictures from her camera because she's the one who got a lot of the good group shots during our hikes.

Oh the hiking...

In no comparison to my sister and her family (who hiked like 50 miles of trails last week with their 3 year old and 7 year old in tow), the Vandervorts hiked just about 7 miles total in the Great Smoky Moutains National Park. We hiked the Laurel Falls trail, the Clingmans Dome trail, the Baskins Creek Trail, and several other little jaunts in and around the park.

We also went mini-golfing, window shopping, egg-hunting, turtle spying, dogwood admiring, four-leaf-clover-picking, etc.

There will be several more posts about our trip...including a post dedicated to surviving 10 hour car trips with 3 kids under age 5 (just barely...Ian's turning 5 in a couple of days!) who don't really like riding in the car. Maybe there will even be a post with tips on renting a gigantic cabin and staying there for a week with a lot of your extended family... oh the fun! (and drama, but mostly fun...)

I hope yinz guyz all had a great Easter!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sleep Chronicles: What a Difference A Week Makes

If you've been following along in the lives of the 'Burgher Tots, you know that we've struggled more with sleep than any other parenting issue. If you haven't read the previous posts on sleep, you can find them listed here.

I probably shouldn't say this because I'm very, very pro-breastfeeding, but after going through this crappy sleep drama a third time, I'm certain our sleep problems are nursing related. I'm sure they're also mostly my fault for letting the nursling nurse to sleep and cosleeping, etc. Breastfeeding is wonderful, and in my opinion, the absolute best way to feed a baby. Any mother who is able (and the percentage of those who are truly unable is extremely small...) should breastfeed her baby. The issue for me arises when I've been breastfeeding nearly constantly for five years and I'm tired of being up all night long. There must be a compromise that works for us. I must set some limits or I will go insane. I'm not a good mother when I'm exhausted. I'm a snippy, mean, snarly mother. I'm so much more patient and loving when I'm not so tired that a whole pot of coffee won't open my eyelids.

As with Ian and Aaron, Lauren has reached toddlerhood without sleeping through the night. The problem is, she is far worse about waking in the night than either of them ever was. She wakes night after night, every hour or two, shrieking like someone is stabbing her. She isn't having night terrors. I know because she's not inconsolable after/during waking, she just wants me. If I pick her up, she stops. If I bring her to our bed, she nurses and then sleeps soundly, only waking to quietly nurse again. That might work for some cosleeping families, but for me? I can't sleep when there's a toddler in the bed...especially one who nurses at will and pinches and kicks and turns and turns and turns. At Christmastime, I decided enough was enough with the night nursing and we were done. It took a month for her to stop pinching and scratching me in the night when I told her "nunnies are sleeping." Finally though, she stopped asking to nurse at night and she did start sleeping a bit better...a bit. She was programmed to wake often in the night. She she did.

About a month ago I decided I had to stop bringing her into our bed at night. (She has always started the night in her crib and then usually around the first waking I would bring her to our bed because I was too tired to trek across the hall a dozen times a night.) So I started rocking her in her room and putting her back to bed... a little protest from her at first... then after a few nights she was fine with that method. But she was still waking up all night long.

The next step was to stop picking her up. Either Roger or I (mostly me) would go to her when she cried out and sooth her in her crib without picking her up. Amazingly, this worked very well. She rarely protested at all and usually went right back to sleep. But she still was waking up all night long.

So, it seems, I had to do something else. I had to completely separate nursing from sleeping. Both at bedtime and naptime. So this past Monday I started a new bedtime routine with her. She nurses and gets her snack in the living room at the same time as the boys (while Aaron does his nebulizer). Then she goes to her room and reads stories in the chair with me, then lights out and rocking in her room for a couple minutes and into bed with her binky, blankie, and water cup. Pat Pat on the back. And mama leaves the room.

It is so crazy. Would you believe she has gone to bed like that, without one single tear, this entire week? Last night she didn't even want to read stories. When we got to her room, she asked to go to her bed.

Who is this toddler?

The best part is she has also stopped waking all night long. I think there were three nights when she woke half way though, but the rest of the nights, she slept until five or six in the morning before she woke the first time. Unreal. Like a fairy tale.

There are a couple points I'd like to make for moms of toddlers who suck at sleeping:

1. You have to keep trying and you have to stay firm. Once you decide you're going to change something up, you have to stick with it long enough for it to take... this means if it doesn't work the first night you need to try it again the next night. Keep trying it until you are sure it isn't going to work. One night is almost never long enough to tell if a new routine is going to work.

2. Cry-it-Out does work, but not on all toddlers. Ian and Aaron both cried it out and it worked magically. And it was necessary. Lauren cried it out and it didn't work. It didn't work and we tried it over and over again for almost a year. There really are some times that you can teach your child to sleep through the night without crying. I truly, absolutely, 100% believe this. I also know that there are toddlers who you cannot teach to sleep through the night without a little (or a lot) of crying. But it's my honest opinion that all the no-cry methods should be exhausted before the crying ones start. Also, I specifically said toddlers because I am a firm believer that babies do not cry at night because they're taking advantage of you. I believe babies cry at night because they need you. I would never let a baby cry at night. Once they're 16-18-20 months (and beyond) old and they are calling to you by name and turning on the "fake-wail" just to get you to haul your buns out of bed for the 15th time that night? Yeah, those kids are old enough to learn to sleep all night.

3.  Most importantly, you are not alone. There are mamas across the globe who are up many times a night tending to their sleepless tots. We mothers who have struggled with sucky sleep kids are out there and you just need to know that we are. It does get better. And yes, going through your days exhausted sucks, but it does get better. (And if it doesn't get better on its own, it's time for you to do something to make it better.)

And finally, just because I feel like I need to note it, Lauren isn't weaned. She is welcome to nurse during the day. She usually nurses first thing in the morning and then again mid-morning. Sometimes after nap. Usually before we go to read stories at bedtime. She's just weaned at night... It's a good compromise.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bridal Shower for Jessica

My niece Jessica is getting married in May and today we had a bridal shower for her!

I think it turned out great.

Lauren with Aunt Emily

Awesome custom cake by Emily's coworker,
Heather Wheeler!

Goat Milk travel bars from Goat Milk Stuff!

That's a lot of presents! Thanks everyone!

The bride getting ready to tackle the mountain of gifts.

There were 3 little girls in attendance & they were all very good.
Boredom set in during gifts, so mamas' phones to the rescue!

Katie, Dianne, Jessica, Lauren, me, Emily & my mom.
7/9 of the "Miller Girls." Missing Ashley & Alex.