Friday, September 7, 2012

SnapJack Photography

Create your own personalized photo books at

In June, we hired Jackie of SnapJack Photography to take pictures of our family. Specifically we wanted newborn pictures of Helena. Well, Helena was a stinker butt and cried pretty much the entire time although Jackie managed to get a few pictures of her. She did get a ton of great pictures of the big girls! She does great work. Ya'll should check her out if you are in Mankato, MN. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Report Catch-Up

I am behind on book reports. So here is a re-cap of some of my recent reads.

Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik

This is a good attachment parenting book in that it's informative, engaging, and not preachy. There are things that Philip and I choose to do in this book. There are things we don't choose to do. Either way, It's a good read. 

Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank: A Slightly Tarnished Southern Belle's Words of Wisdom by Celia Rivenbark

This is a re-read. In fact, I've read it several times. But I love it and when I have a three kiddos, including a newborn, it's good to have a fun read that makes me laugh. (And requires very little brain power to read.) 

There were more books. But to be honest I can't remember what they are. I am currently reading How to Be a Women by Caitlin Moran. I am really enjoying it and will write about it when I am finished. 

2012 Goal Check-In

1. Exercise Regularly - Last year I said I would run and I'll do some of that, but I want to keep to broad this year.

This is not going well. I need to get my butt in gear. I am no longer pregnant and I am well past 6 weeks post partum, so I have no excuse.

2. Read 1 Book a Month - This should not be hard as I love reading!

Of course I've been reading! I love reading. It makes me happy. Perhaps I need to combine reading with exercise.

3. More Variety with Dinner - I have been cooking a lot more, but it's pretty much the same thing week after week. I need to change it up!

I have a couple new recipes I've tried. So far  Sloppy Joe's Under a Bun and Hawaiian Chicken are the new ones my family likes.

4. Continue to Pay Down Debt - We made a dent this past year, but now that we are done with moving expenses and living in a less expensive place we can knock a ton more out this year! We want to be looking at houses this time next year, so we need to pay down debt and save for a down payment.

This is going well. :)

5. Finish Sewing Projects & Complete New Projects - I've got several projects I need to finish. I need to get my butt in gear. I also want to work on new projects. I should start now since Ella Bean is going to need new dresses for the summer and Lord knows I have the fabric sitting around!

I have been doing a lot of sewing and using fabric from my stash!

6. Budget - Gaaa... I am terrible with this, but NEED to do it.

We do well not spending a ton, but we don't do well keeping up with the budget software.

To recap:
I need to exercise more and I need to do a better job keeping up with the budget software. 

On The Loose

When I was a teenager I attended YMCA Camp Widjiwagan. Widji is a wilderness adventure camp. I spent many summers on paddling and backpacking trips with Widji, including a 40 day trip in Alaska the summer before I started college. I also spent two summers on staff as a counselor. I have yet to find a place on this planet as fantastic and life changing as Widjiwagan. So, I was really excited to head up there this summer with my mom and three girls!

My second year on staff I lead a canoe trip in the BWCA with a fantastic group of young ladies. One of them, Helena, I have kept in contact with over the years. She continued with Widjiwagan as a camper and did an Arctic canoeing trip several years ago and has been on staff for several years. This summer she led an Arctic canoeing trip and were blessed to attend her banquet at camp.

Before heading to camp near Ely, MN we spent some time in Duluth, MN with my Oma and aunt Cathy. Helena enjoyed relaxing on the deck with my mom. 

Aunt Cathy, Ella, and Hannah demonstrate their mad thumb sucking skills. 

The girls enjoyed swimming in Oma's little pool.

A sleepy Hannah enjoyed snuggles from her Uhr Oma. 

Here I am with Helena (or "Big Girl Helena" according to Ella). She led a stellar crew of young ladies on an amazing adventure this summer! ("Little Helena" slept through most of the banquet. Celebrations are just too much for her.) 

Ella and Helena wanted to take a dip in Burnside Lake. Naturally I forgot to pack their swim suits, so they enjoyed the lake in a more natural state. Ella said it felt good for her skin to "get some air." I tend to agree. 

My girls and I walking along one of the many paths at Widjiwagan. I explored all over these paths as a camper and counselor. My favorite adventures around camp involved playing "Courier." 

My sweet Hannah girl enjoying the sparkling water of Lake Burnside. I took this photo, but it was  edited by the very gifted photographer, Rich, from RaeElle. (If you live in the Charlotte, NC area Rich and Heather should be your go to photographers. They are amazing and we miss them!) 

This is the bag I made for Helena. There is a song we sing at camp with the lyrics, "On the loose to climb a mountain, on the loose where I am free, on the loose to live my life the way I think my life should be." Helena is off to a remote island for more adventures "On the Loose." I think this bag will serve her well.

I can't wait for my girls to experience their own Widjiwagan aventures! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Helena's Birth Story

It's been a while since I've blogged... Mostly because of this cutie pie, Miss Helena Renee.

After a long and trying pregnancy, Helena was born on May 21st. Here is her story:

I woke up at 4 AM, on Sunday, May 20th with contractions that were relatively close together (6-10 minutes). They continued for a few hours then spaced out again. I spent most of the day resting and taking short naps. I would be woken up about every 20-30 minutes with contractions, but I still got some nice rest. (Thank goodness it was the weekend so Philip could be with the girls.) Around dinnertime they started to pick up, but nothing I could not handle easily. We called my mom around 8 PM and asked her to head to our house. (She lives an hour away.) We told her it was no rush. I assumed we would not go to the hospital until much later that night or the next day. We put the girls to bed and told them that we may not be there in the morning when they got up, but Oma would be there. Of course they love Oma so they were very excited! My mom arrived at our house around 11 PM. Luckily we had her come when we did because my contractions were 3-4 minutes apart then. We left for the hospital at midnight.

When we got to the hospital and all settled in it was about 12:30 AM. I was dilated to 4 centimeters and feeling very much in control of labor. I knew with our previous daughter I went from 4 centimeters to giving birth pretty quickly. They started to fill the water birth tub while I got an IV. The baby’s heart rate was a wee bit too high to get in the tub, so I got fluids and it brought it down right away. I also got one round of antibiotics for group B strep. I was going to decline the antibiotics because I had testing negative on my second test and done natural treatments, but my midwife said it could be given with the IV fluids and the IV would be removed right after the fluids were done, so I agreed to it. I only had to have the IV in for 30 minutes and then it came out and I went into the birthing tub at 1 AM-ish.

The birthing tub was fantastic! It felt great to float in the water. The contractions got much closer together but I felt very much in control. I read in Ina May’s books that making deep, open throat noises would help relax your body and help your baby move down. It worked really well for me. I felt warm in the tub at first, but Philip had an ice bucket full of wet washcloths to put on my head. Everyone was very quite the entire time. I don’t like a lot of noise while I am in labor.

Shortly after 2 AM my water broke. That is when the contractions got much more intense, but I still felt very much in control. I knew that the intensity meant that our baby would be arriving soon! I felt the urge to push shortly before 2:30 AM and with a few contractions and pushes Helena was born at 2:37 AM. I pulled her out of the water and onto my chest. My midwife was very hands off, which is what I wanted. The first thing I noticed was Helena’s red hair. (Our third red headed baby girl.) She was 7 lbs, 14 oz. (The exact same weight as Ella.) She was alert and nursed right away and hasn’t stopped. We waited awhile to cut the cord and then I got out of the birthing pool. I kept her on my chest for over an hour without any weighing, eye ointments, or anything like that. I only had a very small tear, which has made recovery so much easier then in the past.

Helena’s birth was a fabulous, empowering experience. It was the first time I felt very much in control the entire time. I knew my body was capable and I knew I was capable of keeping my mind in control. I also felt loved and respected by my midwife and the nurses. They trusted me and my body to have my baby. My husband was fantastic. He was a strong, silent, support durring the labor and delivery. He’s definitely a rock.

So that's her story. More updates later. I promise to keep up with blogging.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Matt's Cuddly Flannel Quilt

This was my brother's Christmas gift. He's the kind of guy that really has everything he wants and if he doesn't have it he can buy it. I struggled with what to give him for Christmas but then I realized that he can't buy a home made quilt and he would appreciate something cozy for his apartment in Boston. 

Finding the fabric was tricky. First, I needed flannel, which already limited the selection. Second, I wanted something that wasn't girly or for babies. (There is a lot of girly and baby flannel out there!) I also didn't want flannel that was plaid with deer or moose that belonged in a hunting lodge. That's not his style at all. I really lucked out at SR Harris Fabric Outlet and found this great fabric at a fantastic price. I love the green pallet and thought it was manly enough for a bachelor pad without saying "I want to go hunt some deer and eat them!" 

Anywho, putting the quilt together was pretty simple as far as quilts go. It's just a bunch of 12 inch squares made into a sandwich. The print on bottom, with white flannel in the center, and print on top. I quilted an "X" on each sandwich. Then I sewed the sandwiches together with the seams all facing the same side. After they were sewn together I cut into the seams every inch or so. Then I washed it a couple times. Washing it makes the seams so soft and fluffy! It's the best. This quilt is a throw size for Matt's couch. Hopefully someday soon we'll make it out to Boston to visit him and I'll see it in it's new home.

This is a great way to make cute and easy baby quilts too. And as I mentioned above, there is no shortage of cute baby flannel at a great price. Jo-Ann Fabrics has two rows of it. 

"The Luckiest" Quilt

Can I tell you how excited I was about this project?! I think it was the highlight of my crafting/sewing year in 2011. The hardest part is I couldn't talk about it because it was for a dear friend! But now Christmas has passed so I can share. So here it is:

My friend is a HUGE Ben Folds fan. I thought I was a fan, until I met her. My fan level pales in comparison. So when when I saw several quilts like this, I had to do one for her with Ben Folds lyrics. And what better lyric to use then "I Am The Luckiest." Because let me tell you, I am the luckiest to have a friend like her.

First I used wonder under on fabric for the letters. I typed the letters I needed on my computer. (In a font I liked.) Then I just ran the fabric with wonder under on it through my printer, just like paper. It worked like a charm. All I had to do was cut out the letters. Someday I will own a Silhouette CAMEO, but until then this methods works great. Next I just ironed the letters on my pennants and appliqued around each letter.

After that, I appliqued the pennants on my white fabric so they draped like bunting. I chose a white on white print instead of plain white. It gave it a little character without being too bold. I really wanted the pennants to stand out.

Next, I added the rick rack along the top of the pennants. I love the green. It's fun!

Last, I quilted it. I choose to echo quilt and I love how it turned out. I did it without marking it ahead of time. I could have done that to make it more exact, but that would not fit the quilt. It is more of a "freestyle" quilt. I used purple thread for the quilting.

It was such a fun project for a friend who I love dearly.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012 Goals

1. Exercise Regularly - Last year I said I would run and I'll do some of that, but I want to keep to broad this year.

2. Read 1 Book a Month - This should not be hard as I love reading!

3. More Variety with Dinner - I have been cooking a lot more, but it's pretty much the same thing week after week. I need to change it up!

4. Continue to Pay Down Debt - We made a dent this past year, but now that we are done with moving expenses and living in a less expensive place we can knock a ton more out this year! We want to be looking at houses this time next year, so we need to pay down debt and save for a down payment.

5. Finish Sewing Projects & Complete New Projects - I've got several projects I need to finish. I need to get my butt in gear. I also want to work on new projects. I should start now since Ella Bean is going to need new dresses for the summer and Lord knows I have the fabric sitting around!

6. Budget - Gaaa... I am terrible with this, but NEED to do it.

Ok dokey, that's what I have for the coming year!

And since my kids are cute:
Playing dress-up. Ella said they were going to a dog show. 

2011 Resolution Re-Cap: How Did I Do?

Let's see... her goes nothing!

1. I will run a 5K.(It's in April, perhaps I'll do more after the April run.)

Hmm... this did not happen. After baby #3 is born I need to get to the point where I enjoy running again. I didn't get there this year. A huge factor was Philip moved back to Minnesota to start his new job in February, making it hard to find time to run. (The girls and I stayed in NC until June.) I will work on this!

2. I will finish my parent's quilt, Aiden's quilt, Hannah's quilt, and Sean's quilt. (The last three are baby quilts, they should not take a ton of time. I just need to finish them!)

Let's see... I didn't finish quilts like I had planned. I did start and finish a special quilt, that I will blog about later. I did do LOTS of sewing before I got pregnant. So I hope to get back on the band wagan.

3. I will make crafts/sewing projects using up-cycled materials and fabric I already have in my massive stash.

I did some of this! I made Bean a cute backpack out of Philip's old sweater. I also did rags out of old towels. (I know, super exciting, right?!) I used fabric from my stash to make several baby doll outfits and some PJ pants for the girls.

4. I will make and stick to a household budget.

This is a thorn in my side. We are working on it.

5. I will pay down debt.

My Visa is paid off! We are working on Philip's credit cards and the car payments. We will pay off one of the cars and one of Philip's credit cards in the next several months. Philip's student loans are huge. We will continue to work on those, but in the end, he makes a TON more money they he would ever make without the education he received and he is happy and contributing to society. It's worth it. My student loans were forgiven as part of the Teacher Federal Loan Forgiveness Program. That was a very exciting day!

6. I will read at least 1 book a month.

I did a ton of reading! I wish I could remember all of the books. But here is a partial list:

1. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris (Not as grand as his other books.) 

2. A Love That Multiplies by The Duggar's (I was curious and it was actually pretty interesting reading eve if I didn't agree with several things. There were several things I do with my kids that they also find very important.)

3. Growing Up Amish By Ira Wagler (Interesting look at what it's like to be Amish. Not a life changing book.)

4. Bossy Pants by Tina Fay (HILARIOUS! I have read it three times and laugh out loud every time. I love her and want her to be my best friend.) 

5. Stolen Innocence by Lisa Pulitzer and Elissa Wall (A really great book about a woman's experience growing up in the FLDS Church.)

6. It Looked Different on the Model: Epic Tales of Impending Shame and Infamy by Laurie Notaro (It was a light, fun read.) 

7. You Don't Sweat Much for a Fat Girl: Observations on Life from the Shallow End of the Pool by Celia Rivenbark (Pretty darn funny read! She is a good writer. She makes it feel like she's sitting down and talking to you.) 

8. Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Shank: And Others Bits of Delicate Southern Wisdom by Celia Rivenbark. (Also hilarious. This book is what prompted me to read #7.) 

9. We're Just Like You, Only Prettier: Confessions of a Tarnished Southern Bell by Celia Rivenbark. (Again, very funny and well written!) 

10. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Great book and pretty darn good movie as well.) 

11. Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from teh Front Line of the New Girly Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein (A MUST read for all moms and dads of girls. Heck a must read for everyone!) 

12. Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook by Matt Dunn (A dating drama book from a guys perspective. It was ok. Not life changing.) 

13. Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesto by Ina May Gaskin (GREAT read for all women. I also got to hear Ina May speak this fall. It was fantastic.) 

14. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin (Throw away/recycle What to Expect When Your Expecting. Don't donate it to the Goodwill because then some other mom will have to read it! And get Ina May's book. It's what every expecting mom needs to read. Ok, I'll step off my soap box now.) 

7. I will go on "date" nights with my husband at least every other month. (Thanks to babysitting exchanges with friends.)

Hmm... not so many date nights. It didn't help that Philip was in Minnesota and I was in North Carolina for several months. Philip's dad did give us restaurant gift cards for Christmas. We will have to get out and use them.

8. I will learn how to knit or crochet.

Nope, I didn't. But Philip is learning to knit! Does that count? So far he has knit a very cute little blanket for Ella's kitty cat.

9. I will cook more healthy meals for my family.

I have been cooking. Which is pretty exciting. Although I need more variety in my life! Gotta' work on that.

10. I will LOVE my time with my family. (This won't be so hard most days... but somedays Ella Bean can give me a run for my money!)

I've gotten more time with my family since June since I am staying home with the girls now. It's pretty grand.

Ok, that is the recap. Now to look at 2012 Goals! :)

Why I've Been Absent...

So this is why I've been absent from blogging for several months! Baby GIRL Holleran #3 is due to arrive at the end of May. We are all very excited. Right now I am rather excited that I am finally starting to feel better. This is HUGE since I have felt nauseous and crummy for months. The things we go through for our kids!

I have a great group of midwives. There are three of them and I really like all three. While I was really excited to deliver at the Health Foundations Birthing Center in St. Paul we decided against that and I will deliver at the Birthing Center here in Shakopee. They are very natural birth friendly and I can have the water birth I really want. Mostly, they are very close to home. It's only about a 5 minute drive.

So that's why I've been slacking in the blogging department. Perhaps I'll do a better job keeping up now that I am feeling better. :)