Sunday, December 29, 2013

Church and Talents

At church today I normally have to wrangle Anderson both in the pew and outside in the hallway. Today, however, Anders was pretty good during the second half of sacrament meeting and I was able to listen to the speaker, one of the counselors in the bishopric.

Just a pic of the boys and mom
One thing he talked about was the parable of the talents given by Christ in Matthew and Luke.  I enjoyed listening to it and resolved to learn a little bit more about it when I came home, so here I go.

The Parable of the Talents
One talent, I just learned from Wikipedia, was equivalent to 20 years worth of work for a common man.  Even the one talent was a very large sum of money, which could be anywhere between $300,000 to $500,000 today. In other words, even one talent was a great gift not to be taken lightly. I also learned from Wikipedia this is also the origin of the English word talent meaning an ability or gift, as first used by the poet John Milton.

That's it.  Take it what you will.  Just thought those details were interesting.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Tap Out

Well, Holly suggested it was time to put Christmas back in the box where it belongs.  We spent the morning hauling the tree back up in the attic, wrapping up Christmas kitsch, and taking down the stockings. When we finished and the living room finally looked back to normal, we celebrated by watching a move the boys received for Christmas.

It was Monster's University and it was a rather enjoyable movie, what I was able to catch of it anyway in between wrangling Anderson.  We had popcorn (with lots of butter) that I just finished sweeping up off the floor.

I always get sentimental with Christmas decorations.  You only see them for a brief span of each year, and then they go back into hiding again.  Before I put them away until late November, I wanted to take a picture of my Santa collection just so I know where I placed them in during the Christmas 2013 season.

Three Big Santas

Santa Bookends 
12 other Santas
And 6 more
My grandmother collects Santas, and I have inherited a few.  I look forward to collecting more, and having a more accessible display, but that will have to wait until grubby little fingers learn to not touch things.  For now, however, I am content with my 23 you see here.  See you Black Friday weekend 2014, fellas!

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Christmas Eve 2013 can be seen below!   The boys were all decked out in their Christmas PJs and ready for Santa.  Before they went to bed they sprinkle some of that "Reindeer Food" consisting of oats and glitter out the front door.  Then they went up to bed to wait happily for Santa.

More pictures will surely soon follow!  In summary, the boys each got a tablet for kids from Santa loaded with Netflix and Minecraft.  They were super excited!  We then took off for Grandma's house to enjoy the rest of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


All of the brothers love each other, some days more than others of course.  Carter, however, is a particular cuddle-bug with babies.  He really enjoys looking out for his new little brother.  He's a good egg, that Carter!


Monday, December 16, 2013

Saturday Morning Chess

I wanted to post this when Holly made it, but I forget. Several weeks ago the World Chess Championship was unfolding with Viswanathan Anand of India and Magnus Carlsen of Norway. Parker and I were rooting for Magnus.  We followed a critical game over the internet one Saturday morning.  The best part was Parker and I were examining the game and we both predicted the next move Magnus would make.  We felt like chess rock stars!

Saturday Morning Chess

Several days later our man Magnus won the match and became the new World Chess Champion. Go Magnus!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Big Board

With baby Beckett our FHE board is now done!  The entire board is full. There is always the possibility we might have to extend the board, but for now, we can relax and know that all of the FHE assignments are filled until Parker leaves for his mission in 12 years.  Great job Holly getting that done so quickly!  I mean, baby Beckett hardly has any dessert preferences at all.  I guess we'll all be having formula milkshakes tomorrow courtesy of Baby Becks.

The Big Board!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Baby Beckett

A brief Baby Beckett update...he is doing super well!  Of course, he needs to avoid the rough hugs of his older brothers, particularly Anderson's.  But mommy is always there to cuddle him and keep him safe.  We love you Beck!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fireman Carter

I stayed home from work today to help tend to a sick mommy and just-getting-better baby. Although if that was just the problem they probably would have been fine. The real issue is that there is a VERY healthy 2 year old in the house which gets into everything.  It's tough to monitor him when you are sick.

Anyway, I picked up Carter from Pre-K today and firefighters had visited his classroom.  He even got a free hat out of the deal!  He looked so dapper with his jeans and red coat that I had to take this picture.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

For the Love [of Cloth Diapers]

Pin from Kim at Dirty Diaper Laundry

I'm pretty sure it's no secret that I love cloth diapers. bumGenius has been--hands down-- my favorite brand since I started using cloth diapers in June of 2008. We have, as a cloth diapering family, come a long way since then. We were living in an apartment- washing our diapers by hand and hanging them to dry outside the bathroom since there wasn't enough room in the bathroom for the drying rack. We have since bought a house, happily wash diapers in our he washer, and have cloth diapered 3 kids with #4 currently in newborn cloth diapers.

Ask my husband: my cloth diapers are my favorite thing.

(Which I thoroughly blame him since cloth diapering was really his idea.)

Here he is doing the bumgenius can challenge in 2012:

There are so many reasons to love cloth diapers!
Here are just a few of my personal favorites:

They save MONEY: (Why not state the obvious first)
Here is Parker, our first cloth diapered kid-- proudly sporting his limited edition two toned bG3.0 and his mommy-made bG cape in summer 2009.
I could work up a whole cloth diaper vs paper diaper cost analysis, but why reinvent the wheel? If you simply google it, a whole plethora of data can be at your fingertips- like this one.

What it boils down to: Paper diapers cost roughly $.30/diaper. That's $.30 that's literally going to get tossed away. No, thank you.

Like I said before, we started cloth diapering in 2008, when our oldest was 7mon old. We made a chart to tally off each diaper we hand washed. They quickly "paid" for themselves. We eventually stopped keeping track, but I now wish we would have kept it going.

my well loved CP obge

Cloth diapers can even make money. Some people will pay nearly double for a hard to find diaper if it's new in package. If you have the self control (which I don't) to stash some for a rainy day- it could (literally) pay off.
ie: Chelsea Perry old style elementals!

They are EASY:

Gone are the days of folding flats and using diaper pins (unless of course you want to). Changing a cloth diaper is just as easy as changing a paper diaper- The only difference is you put the soiled one into a diaper pail instead of the garbage can. (Disclaimer: You will hear a newborn crying. Poor boy was camera shy ;) Actually, he was ready to eat and wasn't into getting his diaper changed for fun)

Shout out: Thank you to my 6 year old for taking the video, my 4 year old for hand picking which diapers I should use, and my 2 year old for taking the "dirty" one right to the diaper pail. I have great helpers!

I LOVE the one size system and use it as a huge selling point when talking to people about bumgenius diapers. I never have to worry about if I have the next size of paper diapers on hand. I never have to run to the store because the paper diaper is suddenly too small (read: constant poo blow outs). It is one diaper that will last from (nearly) birth to potty training! Score.
These are the different styles of bg that we use. Newborn for the baby. Elementals on our 2 year old during the day, and 4.0s at night only. He will be potty training soon (hopefully) and will be heading into the flip trainers (also made by Cotton Babies):

They are STYLISH:

Cloth diapers are more than just diapers. They are accessories. They can easily be matched to any outfit and totally eliminate the need for those under-dress-diaper-cover-things. There are few things in life cuter than a baby in a cute tshirt, bumGenius diaper, and baby leg warmers. Have you ever seen kids at the playground (or anywhere else) and their little paper diaper is sticking out of the back of their pants? Not cute. A cute cloth diaper peeking out? Adorable. See for yourself...
Check out these beauties. All bumGenius:

They have BLESSED my life:

Dramatic? Sure. But, the cloth diaper community is really just that- a community. I have had the chance to meet some amazing moms. I had the chance to meet Kim from Dirty Diaper Laundry when she lived in CNY. I was selling some diapers in 2009 on Craigslist and we met up for the exchange. She told me about her "little" blog. Look at it now. I'm so proud of her dedication. I also had the extreme privilege of taking photos at her homebirth in Oct 2010. She is a rockstar.

I run a buy/sell/trade bumGenius facebook page in my 'spare time'. We have grown to over 7600 members!! It takes a lot of time and effort but I really do love it. My moms (and the couple of dad members) are top notch. One mom on there even threw me a little online baby shower for Baby4 complete with games and bumGenius prizes for the online guests! I felt so loved and it was so much fun.

I have also started volunteering at my local cloth diaper store- Mother Earth Baby. I do her monthly newletter, run a monthly facebook contest, and help plan the Great Cloth Diaper Change each year. Ask Lisa: I'm bumGenius' #1 fan!

Cotton Babies, makers of my favorite bumGenius brand are doing a "Mommy Blogger" Contest & I entered this article! 

photo I took for the cover photo on the bG fb group

Please leave me a comment saying what was your favorite reason I posted- or even tell me why YOU love to cloth diaper, or would have loved to, or look forward to... be creative!

Thank you so much. 

Baby Beckett appreciates the chance to win some new diapers
(poor boy #4 gets all the hand me downs)!

He has been eyeing the new prints:
My 4 boys happily in their bumGenius cloth diapers!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Birthday Party Zoom, Zooom

On Saturday we traveled to Rochester to celebrate our (only!) niece's birthday.  She turned one year old and it was a swell and big-to-do.  (Meaning, there was plenty of company and plenty of pizza, which I loved.)  Holly took pictures of the birthday girl, which I am sure she will add at some point.  I was mostly busy with monitoring the boys.  (Minus Beckett, who made the rounds with middle aged and elderly women.) Fortunately, the party was held at a large church where there was a recreation room with plenty of toys.  The boys found the toy cars, and well, the rest of the birthday party was spent in fast and furious competition.

First, Anderson wanted to get in on the action.

Then Parker snagged himself a set of wheels...

Finally, Carter grabbed a vehicle and around and around they went!  Zoom, zoom boys!

(LOL...I just noticed this after posting...if you look closely above you can see that Anderson was bored at this point and trying to make a break for it.  Maybe he heard the pizza had arrived....Zoom, zoom again!)

Monday, November 11, 2013


As I'm sitting here sipping hot cocoa out of my Boulter mug... I am editing photos of my grandma and baby Beckett. Names are special to me, and my boy's names reflect those special people in my life-- some of whom I have met and loved, and some I haven't.

Since I have boys, they will proudly carry the name Steffen their whole life. I wanted their middle names to reflect their Momma and my heritage. So, we've given each of our kids maternal maiden names for middle names. They are mostly in order except the first are switched only because we didn't want Parker to have the initials PMS. That would have been cruel.

So, baby Beckett (on Saturday) had the chance to meet his closest living namesake.

Beckett Ruster. Ruster is my grandma's mom's maiden name. It is special to my grandma, and it is special to me. Here they are, saying hello:

Gram stroked his cheek, and his little hand.

 She held him tight and told him things that I strained to hear, but couldn't make out. I made eye contact with her, and her eyes were red. I've never seen my Gram cry, and I wouldn't say she was crying then... but they were definitely having a special moment. And I had the chance to witness it. I gulped back tears and tried to savor the moment.
 I am SO. HAPPY. that my Gram got to meet Beckett Ruster, and that she loves him (as Gram and I have both said) "even if he is a boy". 

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Bedroom Divided

Usually at bedtime there is a scripted commotion in the bedroom.  Anderson is often climbing onto Parker and Carter's beds, jumping around, and sometimes even biting them for kicks. Sometimes I go up there and tell Anderson to shape up.  Other times we let Parker and Carter lay in our bed until Anderson conks out without them.  Yesterday, Parker and Carter created their own solution.

Man the Barricades!

If you look you can see that Parker and Carter built a barricade against Anderson and then bunkered down for the night.  Safe from the wrath of their pugnacious younger brother, they were able to get a good night's sleep.  And Anderson?  He was happily sprawled across his bed, his toys covering the room, pleased with himself for the territory he won.  I'm not sure who to be more proud of: Anderson for successfully claiming the majority of surface area in the room, including three beds, or Parker and Carter for their rock solid fort that Anderson was unable to topple.  And in a year and a half, when we toss Beckett in there, who knows what will happen?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Late night buddy

Carter has been coming into our bed during the night for months. He has to start in his bed but if he wakes up and needs to he can come into our bed. I have been sleeping downstairs with the baby bc of my surgery/stairs and to try to keep the rest if the house asleep. Carter now wakes up and instead of sleeping w daddy... he comes downstairs. He sleeps at the other end of the couch. When the baby wakes up he helps me by getting diapers and wipes. The other night I said my tummy hurt and her marched out and got me saltines in a bowl. He then said I should eat a popsicle so he got us both one. He is such a sweet kiddo. I am so blessed to call him mine. And I think Beckett would agree.

Friday, November 1, 2013


So here is a quick and darkly lit picture of Parker and Carter with their Halloween loot. Holly to nicer pictures with her camera before all the action with the boys all dressed up.  She hasn't put it on facebook yet though, which means I haven't been able to steal it from there for the blog.  I will edit it in as soon as I can.

In short, trick-or-treating was a rather long night!  I first did the rounds with Anderson and Carter and Parker stayed behind to help Grandma Steffen hand out candy.  (He really wanted to do it, and we had set up the craft tent and decorations with lights to make it all special in our driveway.) Anderson was at first wary of the event, but he eventually caught on.  He loved marching up to houses and getting free candy.  He stuffed a Tootsie Pop or too into his mouth before we got home.  Also, at one point some teenagers were roaming around in creepy costumes, and Anderson covered his eyes as we walked.  It was cute.

When we got back Parker joined us.  Anderson went inside to eat his loot and go to bed.  Parker, Carter, and I ended up walking around for about an hour and a half.  They boys got tired and I had to alternate carrying them and their sacks. But we made it home safe and sound soon enough.  It was a great Halloween.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pre-Halloween Workout

I am back at school, and Holly is tending to Beckett by day with my mother here to help.  It was great to go back to school and share the good news of baby Beckett with my students.  Many of them had been clamoring for updates long before Holly was even due.  We also had a great dinner tonight brought by one of Holly's friends.  It must have given the boys lots of energy because they wanted to run around all night in their Halloween football costumes.  They even made me keep a tally of their running times.

Two tuckered boys with their living room running times
You can see on the chart they are holding they first ran back and forth for 4, 7 or only 14 seconds. Then they both decided to go whole hog and ran non-stop back and forth in the living room for 200 seconds.  I was the one who had to stop them because I didn't want it to go on all night.  With that kind of exercise, I won't feel guilty about them eating their Halloween candy before bed tomorrow night. Well done boys!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Beckett's Birth Story

Baby Beckett arrived surprisingly on his due date: 10/24/2013. He was born at 5:58am. His birth story is very different from the other three boys.

From the very beginning this baby has measured big. I had a couple "extra" sonograms through out the pregnancy to make sure that there was just one baby and to check and make sure there was no extra fluid. The findings were always the same... one big fat baby (and I'm taking like over 97th percentile). We thought for sure this baby was coming early.

The end of September, baby was estimated 7lb 14oz. I know that sonograms can only estimate size and there was no way to be sure that baby would be that big. I trusted my body would grow a baby that I could and would birth.

Friday, Oct 18th (Parker's 6th birthday) I had an appointment. My uterus was measuring 43 weeks (when I was 39) and so they sent me downstairs for a sono to check size/fluid since their sono tech was booked all afternoon. The sonographer downstairs told me baby now estimated 9lb 14oz. Holy big baby.

First thing Monday morning I got a call from Dr Berry's office that she wanted to see me STAT. She wanted to talk about the baby and get a game plan set. She checked my cervix (2-3cm) and checked my pelvis. She felt like things would be okay and I could go ahead with my VBAC-. I asked if I should keep my weekly appointment for Weds and she said sure.

Wednesday (the 23rd) I had been scheduled for an NST. sono, and appointment with Dr. Berry. We asked Mary if she could watch the boys so Brian could go with me. She rocks and said yes. At that appointment we found out he now estimated 10lb 2oz.

To make a long story short... I had been feeling weird about this delivery for a while. I would talk to a friend of mine all the time about all my anxieties (Yes, I'm sure I drove her nuts). There were no grounds for these feelings. But, they wouldn't go away. I prayed a lot about what to do. I felt prompted to prepare for a csection. Would I try to VBAC with an epidural just in case I ended in csection? Would I plan a csection? Would I try to push it all out of my mind and just try to VBAC like with Carter and Anderson? I didn't know what to do. I pondered and prayed, and prayed and pondered. Every time I would think about a csection- I felt peace. I would feel panicky when I thought about VBACing. This is totally NOT expected coming from me. I love everything to do with birth. I have a special place in my heart for natural, beautiful births. I love making women feel empowered and I loved feeling empowered. I didn't want this birth to be anything different.

At that appointment Weds I told Dr Berry where I was at and what I was thinking. She was amazingly supportive. She wanted to do what I wanted. We talked about the options (which I had been going through over and over in my head). She checked my cervix and I was 3/4cm. I said that when I thought about a csection- I felt peace. It's not what I wanted, but I felt it in my gut that I should go this route to get the baby here.

We planned a csection for Friday 10/25 at 7:30am.

We got home from that appointment, ate lunch with Mary and talked about the appointment and where we were going from there. On the way home from watching the boys, she got in a car accident. :( She was okay but I told her not to worry about coming to watch the boys if I went into labor beforehand.. I wanted her to heal. Brian called his mom and she came up Weds night (just in case).

On Thurs 10/24 I woke up at 1:30a with super intense contractions. I went to the bathroom-had  bloody show (never had that- even in labor) and I thought my water may have broken (later we found out it didn't). We called the Dr and went to the hospital. Chris- my doula met us there. I was only a 5 when I got there (at 3:24am) but I told triage that Dr Berry said to come ASAP if I had any signs of labor and the csection would happen. It took forever to get the bloodwork results (while I was trapped on the monitor in the little triage room). 2 hours later still waiting for the results- they checked me and I was 7cm. The Dr (Dr George was on call and I  had never even met her) made sure I wanted the c-section still. I said I had already come to terms with it, and yes. Finally the anesthesiologist said "let's go" (still were waiting for the blood results)... and at 5:30a I was wheeled back for the spinal/section.

was born at 5:58am weighing in at 9lb 4oz.
He was 20.5inches long. He had the cord around his neck.

He was nice and healthy and Brian got to do skin to skin in the OR.

 As soon as I was in recovery- I nursed and had skin to skin with him.

It  was  a  beautiful  birth!

Looking back I can say for CERTAIN that I AM and WAS EMPOWERED.  I listened to my gut and I did what I thought I had to do. I have a beautiful healthy baby boy. I am healing.

The boys came up that afternoon to meet "the new baby" and they were ALL thrilled that he was a boy. :)

And, I have to admit, I am too.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

it's official

This is the longest I've ever been pregnant. I'm 35weeks and 6days as I type this out. Drs appt later today to check on the baby. He/She seems to be doing okay.... and just getting bigger by the day (if you can imagine).

Yesterday (remember it's 2am) I went for a walk. The sun was shining and it was windy and chilly. The perfect fall afternoon.

I cannot wait to meet this (not so) little baby.