Recent Quotes

(I've shared most of these on Facebook, but I know there are a few of you who read this who aren't on Facebook.)

Rae: "If you're alive, that's a good sign. If you're dead, that would probably be a bad sign."


Me to Rae: "I love spending time with you."
Rae: "I love spending time with banana splits!"


Me to Ruby: "I love YOU."
Ruby: "No, I yub YOU!"
Me: "No, I love you!"
Ruby: "No, I yub YOU!"
Rae (from the other room): "Mom! Ruby! You both love each other! Now stop fighting!"


Ruby (after Rae had used the potty): "Rae go poop?"
Me: "Yep, see?"
Ruby (peering in the toilet at the tiny turd): "Oh! Baby poop! It's so cuuuuuute!"


Rae to JP: "I want to marry you when I grow up."
JP: "Well, you can't marry me, but do you want to marry someone like me?"
Rae: "Yep! Like with curly hair, and who's funny, and watches the Simpsons, and drinks out of a water bottle, and walks through fields to hunt!"


Babywearing Update

WOW! I got a lot of responses to the babywearing post, and I appreciated every one of them!

After every response, I went and re-looked at each of the items mentioned, taking into account what each of you did/did not like about each.

I kept coming back to the wraps (Moby vs. Sleepy Wrap), but worried about ease of getting in and out. Then a friend mentioned the K'tan, and that really caught my attention.

THEN today at Target, I happened to see a repackaged Moby Wrap for only $28. I figured that was a pretty darn good deal, so I bought it.

My first response: holy guacamole this thing is HUGE! Seriously, nobody told me how ginormous they are! It took me a while to figure it out, and when I finally did, I didn't feel comfortable in it. I'm not going to give up on it altogether, but now I'm really leaning toward the K'tan.

It goes on like a sling, but supports over both shoulders, like a wrap. Anybody ever used one of these? Pros/Cons?

A Day at the Park

There are just a couple weeks left of life with just these two little girls. When a beautiful day like today comes along, I can't help but leave the vacuuming for another day and take the girls out for a day at the park. Soon, life with change for all of us (for the bettter!), and for a time, they may not get the amount of Mommy attention they are used to. So we are soaking it in now.

I can hardly look at these photos without getting all choked up at how precious these little princesses are to me. I can't wait to welcome our third little princess to our family!



For the past couple of days, I have been researching baby wraps. I know there is a huge "babywearing" fad going on right now, and I can't necessarily say that I'm a part of it or agree with all of the reasons why people say it's so good for a baby's emotional development. But what I do understand is that when I have to take 3 kids into the grocery store and the tiniest one can't sit up on it's own in the cart, I either have to haul in the whole carseat, which takes up most of the cart (which is what I did with the first two kids) or somehow carry/wear the baby.

I have a Baby Bjorn -- which I used from time to time with the older girls -- and even though it's comfortable and provides "ok" support, I don't like how you have to wait until the baby is a certain size to use it, and even then the flap in the front blocks the baby's face. It's stiff and not very flexible, and you can only wear the baby on the front, not your side or back.

So I'm looking at wraps. My goodness are there a million options out there. Ring wraps, ringless wraps, pouches, slings, Mei Tais, brand after brand after brad that all claim to be the best for you and baby.

HEY MOMS -- Do any of you have baby carriers? Which ones do you like/dislike and why?

I am looking for something...
1.) Easy to get in and out of
2.) Mainly for the first 6-7 months until baby can sit up on her own
3.) Not ridiculously expensive
4.) Ideal for shopping trips or being out and about with the big girls at the park, on a walk, etc.

I'm not necessarily interested in carrying the baby at home. I don't want a clingy baby who always has to be held.

I've already talked to a couple of people and so far I'm leaning toward either the Moby D or the Sleepy Wrap. They seem to be pretty much the same thing, except one has stretchier fabric than the other. *sigh* I do wonder, though, if these won't be as "easy" to get in and out of as a pouch might be.

Please comment! I need feedback!


"Not Me!" Monday

Mckmama- Not Me Monday

Happy "Not Me!" Monday!

I did NOT consider skipping "Not Me! Monday" again this week, and then change my mind when I found out MckMama is giving away a jewelry gift certificate to someone who participates. Not me! I'm NOT that desperate. ;)

At 37 weeks pregnant, there is great need to be prepared for anything at any moment in our home. That's why I've been working on keeping the house as clean as is relatively possible, unpacking tiny newborn clothes, creating a checklist for my hospital suitcase (although I haven't actually packet it yet), etc.

Therefore it is NOT possible that a prepared Mama like me ran out of gas on a small, country road this week, 9 months pregnant and with two young children in the car. Not me! I know better than to let my tank get below 1/4 full. And if that had happened, I wouldn't have gazed out the window at the gas station I could see but not reach in the far-off distance, contemplating how wise or unwise it might be to attempt walking there (pregnant with two children), all the while kicking myself for skipping the gas station the night before because I just wanted to get home.

Then (if any of that had happened), I would not have been doubly irritated to find out that my AAA membership had recently expired and be forced to pay to have it renewed over the phone in order to be rescued.

None of these things happen to a prepared woman.

I also did NOT spend the night in a twin sized top bunk bed with a 1-year-old this week because she was freaking out and wouldn't sleep and I just didn't have the patience or the energy to deal with it any longer. I'm a mama who always sticks to her guns -- I never give in to fits just to get what few precious hours of sleep I can glean from one night.


How about you?


Last Weekend

Last weekend was a full one for us.

The fun started on Friday with a birthday party for one of Rae's friends, Abigail. You should have seen her face when she received the invitation in the mail -- pure excitement! She and Ruby both had so much fun.

Birthday girl Abi devours a cupcake.

It was hilarious to watch a group of 3-year-olds attempt to break open a pinata! It took all the patience I had to not step in and go, "No, kids! This is how it's done!" WHACK!

Tap, tap, tap. You're gonna have to do better than that, Sweetie!
(Abi's mom Brenda eventually ended up dumping the loot on the floor)


That night the girls went for a sleep-over at Gammy & Grampie's house. On Saturday morning, JP and I woke up bright and early and set out for a gathering of the Large Munsterlander Club of North America in Pine City, MN. In case you are confused, yes, that is a dog club. Yes, we are now "those kinds" of people. And yes, we are now members of the LMCNA. And yes, we will be involved in more of these sorts of events throughout the years, I am sure!

It was actually pretty informative, and the people were great. Our breeder was there, as well as some other Munsterlander owners we had met through her. Three of Gideon's litter mates were in attendance, as was his dad, Jager.

Jager is the first Large Munsterlander JP ever met -- the one from the hardware store I told you all about in the beginning. He is a monstrous, impressive, eye-catching dog. He was the biggest, best-looking, most complimented dog at the whole reunion. And guess what -- Gideon is the spitting image of his father, from his long head right down to his huge paws.


On Monday our dear friends Chris and Erin were in town from Boston. The girls and I had recently seen Erin, but none of us had seen Chris in at least a couple of years. They came out to our place and we had fun just hanging out. The guys shot guns while we girls built a fire and made s'mores. The evening was unseasonably cool, and after the girls went to bed we stayed out by the fire until we ran out of wood to burn, catching up and watching the stars come out.

Chris is finishing up law school out in Boston, and next summer they will be moving back to MN -- can't wait for that day!


On the home front...

I have reached 37 weeks and I still feel pretty darn good. (It's easy to say that now, while the girls are napping and I'm sitting on the couch. My opinion seems to change around 8:30 pm when my body starts shutting down.)

If I get up the energy, I may pull out the bins of baby clothes and switch out Ruby's stuff from the nursery tomorrow. I also need to get our hospital bags packed soon..."just in case." AND I really want to get a "belly picture" of myself somehow, not only to share, but just to have for the sake of having!

Speaking of Ruby, we have had two amazing days in a row of potty training! She had gone a couple days with little to no successes, but then yesterday it was like a switch went off in her head! She had seven and a half successes, all self-initiated, and only one and a half accidents. Both times she was running to the potty and just didn't make it -- so you have to give her some credit! Today she hasn't had ANY accidents at all. I'm so proud and relieved! Keep praying for her to keep up the good work!

Little Artist

One of Israel's favorite things to do at home is painting. She will paint anything I allow her to paint. We've painted rocks, pine cones, cardboard boxes, green beans, flower pots, scraps of wood, etc.

She impresses me all the time with her ability to figure out how to construct an image without any help at all. First it was a rainbow. Then a nature scene with a tree, grass, bushes, and a sun. Then she figured out roses, faces and even how to draw a crown on a head. I never showed her how to draw these things -- she just figured it out.

Recently, as she sat down to paint, she asked me, "Mom, how many legs does a giraffe have?" I informed her that a giraffe has 4 legs. That's all she needed to know to create this:

(yes, I am aware that I misspelled "giraffe" on the painting)

Now, maybe you don't find this quite as impressive as I do, but I thought this was brilliant for a 3-year-old!

Only slightly less impressed was I at the proceeding stripe-less Zebra (whose neck really is slightly shorter than the giraffes, you will note)...

...and the long-legged (but short-necked) hippo.

She is so cute. Each time she asked me, "how many legs does a zebra/hippo have?"


Love & Logic

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine made a comment that caught my attention. He said that he didn’t believe in being “in love” with someone. To him, the definition of being “in love” was little more than an emotional feeling that goes away with time. Real love, to him, was a decision a person makes every day, regardless of how one feels.

While I understand what he was getting at, I can’t help but disagree. Because I am in love with a man. Deeply in love with him. I may not get butterflies every time he walks into the room anymore, or blush when he says my name. The “emotional feelings” that accompanied our early years may only pop up from time to time versus whenever we are near each other. But there’s no doubt that I’m in love.

Photo by Karen Feder Photography

When I said this, another friend then asked me how I would define being “in love.” I told them both that to me, being in love meant that I don’t ever want to live a day of my life without this man. He’s everything to me, and if I ever had to face life without him, I would crumble to pieces.

My friend had concluded that when choosing a mate, one shouldn’t trust the feelings that you may be feeling for someone. Your decision should be made based on logical assessments of how and why this person is a good fit for you, etc. Again, I understood what he meant, but disagreed.

Because here is what I believe: love (between a man & woman) isn’t just about a feeling, nor is it simply a decision you make every morning when you wake up. It has to be both. And it does not have to be logical.

When I first met JP, he was anything but the “logical decision” for my future husband. People thought I was crazy for being interested in this pony-tailed, tattooed, pierced up, motorcycle-riding, non-virgin, loud, opinionated, former party boy from a divorced home and a history of drug and alcohol abuse (never mind the fact that he was a new creation now, right?). I had friends telling me why they felt he was disqualified and family sitting me down for heart-to-hearts. And after dating for about six months – even having made plans to get engaged when I finished school in the spring – I broke up with him because of these “failures” to line up with what I had always imagined in my husband. I had always been taught that I needed a “Word from God” to marry someone, but didn’t know how to hear that “word” for myself. I guess I usually just looked over the checklist I had assembled and then asked my dad what he thought.

This time, it wasn’t going to work out that way. I had every emotional feeling in the world for this man, but he failed the checklist. So did that mean God was saying, “No?”

You all know how the story ends. As I type this, I’m sitting on the couch 9 months pregnant with his third child! So what happened?

After about six months apart, I realized a few things.

1.) JP’s past did not determine who he was as a man of God now.

2.) Where in the Bible had I ever seen God saying, “Thus says the Lord, you shall marry so-and-so?” They all chose their mates for themselves, and as long as they chose from among God’s people, it was good.

3.) I realized I did not want to live without this man. I was in love with him.

So I tossed out my checklist, chose to see JP for who he was (and is now) instead of focusing on his past (“Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” I Sam 16:7), and married the man I loved. And I’m still madly in love with him. Not the sweaty palms, giddy sort of love that goes away, but the kind of love that -- when I look over at him falling asleep on the couch next to his puppy as I type this – makes me tear up and pray to God that I will never have to face a day of my life without him.

Photo by Karen Feder Photography

Happy 5th anniversary to the checklist-failing man of my dreams. I can’t imagine life without you. You are a good, honest, hard-working, loving, loyal, funny, genuine, committed, patient, faithful, adoring, godly husband and father. You love me completely, and I’ll love you forever.


Potty Training Adventures, Cont.

A friend of mine was joking with me the other day about what is and is not appropriate conversation for a public blog, in regards to potty training. My response to her was that when she has kids, she'll understand the need to let people know about what you are going through on a daily basis as a mom -- so they can appreciate it!

All joking aside, I like to not only be open and real on my blog, but I also like to record life as it is happening today, so that someday my kids and I can look back and remember these days. This is the closest thing I keep to a journal, and my kids do not have baby books (I'm just not good at that kind of stuff), so this is what we have to work with.

That's why I have another potty training story to share with you. :) HA!

Most of you know that I do NOT love grocery shopping. Combine that with potty training and a night like this was bound to happen. It was the most insane trip to the grocery store I can remember.

Picture, if you can, a 9-month pregnant woman sprinting from one end of a grocery store to another with an anxious-looking toddler on her hip, pushing one of those massive, semi-license-required-to-operate police car shopping carts with a curly-headed 3-year-old hanging on for dear life inside the cab, and yelling, "Excuse me! Coming through! Emergency! Excuse me!" the whole way.

Now imagine that three times over.

Yes, three times Ruby looked up at me with those big, beautiful blues and pleaded, "Mommy! Poop coming!" So we RACED to the bathroom, only to sit...and sit...and sit...for what seemed like a half hour each time (but was probably really more like 10 minutes each)...for nothing. Nothing. I promised a big treat. Nothing. I tickled her until she could hardly breathe. Nothing. Rae and I sang songs and encouraged her with cheers. Nothing.

Finally, we made it to the check out line. It wasn't until after I had unloaded everything from the cart onto the conveyor belt that the fourth plea came, more earnest than the last few. I looked at the cashier and she just said, "Go -- I've got this."

So off we raced again, leaving all of our groceries on the counter. And again...NOTHING.

When we got back to the line, the cashier was just finishing ringing up and bagging everything for us. There were at least 3 people in line behind me now, all of them looking at me like, "what the heck is up with this lady, and where has she been?" I apologized over and over, and they were all pretty sweet and understanding in their responses.

We made it to the car and I put Ruby right on the potty chair (because yes, I do bring it with us everywhere right now. Today Ruby even sat on it in the waiting room at the doctor's office. So? What? You got a problem? hahaha!) while I unloaded the groceries. Nothing.

I hooked them into their chairs and took off down the road. I called JP back (who had been calling me while we were shopping and I kept on ignoring the call for obvious reasons). We weren't one mile from the store and the 5th plea came, panicky and urgent sounding. I hung up on JP without warning, threw on the hazard lights and pulled over to the side of the road, got Ruby out of her car seat and onto the potty chair, and then..."I did it, Mommy!"

And sure enough, there was Ruby's little turd. Right in the potty where it belonged. All of my efforts were not in vain. Ruby was a champ. Rae was cheering, I was almost crying, Ruby was grinning ear to ear. We celebrated with singing and freshly bought Curious George fruit snacks.

As we drove home we went from dark skies to light rain to a full-on torrential downpour, coupled with a fascinating electrical storm. When we got to our house, I pulled in as close to the garage as I could (but of course, it's too messy right now to actually park inside) and unloaded the girls, the poop-filled potty chair, my bag, and the ice cream. Everything else would have to wait. I plopped the girls in front of VeggieTales and went back out to the garage to try to clear a spot to pull into far enough to unload the groceries. My body started revolting (can't blame it) and I started having contractions, so I stopped.

When I came back in, I found Ruby sitting on the potty chair (which I had cleaned out, thankfully) with a smile and another, "I did it!" Sure enough, she had self-initiated peeing on the potty. What a little champion!

I am very encouraged by Ruby's quick progress (relatively speaking; remember how long we trained Rae?). We still have a ways to go, but she "gets it," for the most part. I'm glad I took this different approach to training her, and I hope it just gets easier with each kid.

I could very well have a full week or two of no diapers...until Rosie joins our world. :)

And quickly, before I close -- I had my 36-week check up today. 36 weeks is the official "full-term" checkpoint. Baby is fully formed and ready to go, even though my due date isn't for another 4 weeks. Everything was healthy, and so far I have gained 22 pounds. Not too bad. They say you gain a pound a week at the end, which will put me just over what I gained with Ruby. As long as I stay under 30 pounds, I have no complaints!


"Not Me!" Monday

Mckmama- Not Me Monday

It's been a while since I did a "Not Me!" Monday post. You can view more by visiting MckMama's blog.

Some exciting events have already been recorded...such as, "I did not watch a snake attack a frog in my childrens' sandbox." Oh Lordy.

And of course you already know about Ruby's "big girl" adventures. The first night in the big bed went GREAT, as did nap time the next day. Last night was the first night with Rae in the room with her. Let's just say I was NOT awoken at 4:30 am to Ruby whimpering, "Rae? Rae?" over the monitor. After going upstairs to tell her to be quiet and go back to bed, she did NOT then remain awake and proceed to whimper until about 6:00 am, at which point her quiet whimpers did NOT turn into full-blown, top-of-the-lungs crying. This crying did NOT wake up Rae.

I did NOT give in and put Ruby back in her crib for the sake of a couple more hours of sleep for the whole family. And of course my precious 3-year-old went right back to sleep -- she did NOT decide that maybe 6:00 am really was a good time to wake up and proceed to come downstairs to ask if I would get up with her now. I did NOT send her back to bed 3 times before finally getting up with her at 7:15 am.

(Note: It is now 8:52 am and Ruby is still alseep in her crib! That's fine by me.)

And as far as potty training goes -- our accidents certainly did NOT outnumber our successes yesterday. Ruby wasn't hesitant about the potty at all; she certainly did NOT hold in her pee from 1:15 pm, through nap time, all the way until 6:45 pm until she finally could hold it no longer!

And when we went outside and she pooped on the ground, it came as NO shock to me that as I cleaned poo off of her and the potty she tried to make it to, I looked up and saw two of our dogs eating the poop off of the ground. Not my dogs!

And so the adventure continues. Day 2 begins today. I have Rae as my helper and encourager today. When Ruby had a success in the potty last night, Rae did a happy dance for her and cheered, putting a HUGE smile on Ruby's face. She looks up to Rae a lot, so I am hopeful that today will go better!



Jeremiah Andrew Harpel joined our lives today, weighing in at 7 lbs, 1 0z and 20 inches long!

All I can do is wipe the tears from my eyes as I stare at the beautiful pictures and wish with my whole heart I could be there to kiss his sweet head. Not to mention his brothers, sister, and loving mommy & daddy.

Micah is a father of four!
Missy, the champion. She had never gone past her due date before this guy!
Biggest brother Malachi
Big brother Zach & big sister Anna
This last picture is so sweet -- look at the excitement on the big boys' faces! Micah said Anna was a little afraid of the baby at first, but I'm sure she'll warm up in no time!

Thank you Jesus for another healthy nephew! Grandbaby #10 on the Harpel side -- Amazing.



Tic, Tac, Toe! Three in a row!

It's 10:11 pm and I just got a text from my sister-in-law Missy to say she has finally started labor, two days overdue.

Little Jeremiah will be here soon!!!!

Please keep them in your prayers. Missy's mom has been down in North Carolina to help her for a number of days now, but she has to leave on Tuesday. Micah had 10 days of paternity leave, but he has to start his new classes on the 16th no matter what. So each day the baby has been overdue has been one less day of paternity leave for him.

Missy, you are a champion!

Big Girl Ruby

Tonight, Ruby is sleeping in a "big girl" bed for the first time. She is actually on the top bunk in Rae's room, while Rae is out of town. We chose the top bunk because it has tall gates all along the side of it (so I'm not worried about her falling out), and she doesn't climb down by herself yet. She was very excited and I haven't heard a peep out of her since I put her down.

Then tomorrow, she and I are beginning potty training. I decided to wait a lot longer with her than I did with Rae since starting early backfired so badly last time. She is showing every sign of readiness, and I've put it off as long as I possibly can.

The truth is I'm very nervous and scared to start because we did have such a poor experience potty training Rae. I'm going to do things very differently this time, and I just hope and pray she catches on quickly. Please be praying for us! Tomorrow it will be just the two of us so we can really focus. Then I've cleared the calendar of everything from Mon-Thurs so we can stay home and practice, practice, practice. We won't be going anywhere or doing anything. So if anybody wants to come out and keep us company, consider yourself invited!

Look at this sweet face. In a month, she will no longer be my little baby. These two steps toward being a "big girl" are bittersweet.

Snake vs. Toad

I'm sure at some point this kind of stuff will become routine enough that I won't blog about them anymore, but for now I'm happy that I'm not hillbilly enough to consider this a normal sight to see in our back yard.

Yesterday the girls and I were playing in the "sand box" (term used lightly, since it's really just a pile of dirt) when Rae said, "Look, Mom. There's a frog. And a snake."

I looked over and sure enough, there they were. Both animals were sitting perfectly still, with the snake pointed toward the frog, like this:

They sat there for a good 4-5 minutes like that, perfectly still. And then all of the sudden, the snake lunged forward and attacked the toad!!! He grabbed the toad by the belly and I turned my phone camera on as quickly as I could. It's kind of hard to see because they were under the soccer ball. When I tried to move it, the snake got spooked and slithered away.

Did you hear the girls?
Ruby: "Go, frog! Go!"
Rae: "Bye, little frog! Good luck finding your family!"
So cute.