new fav place

Thanks to K.Starr for directing me to my new favorite blog.  Blogs are such a unique opportunity to share our lives with our loved ones and make friends with strangers.  They are a creative outlet, a journal, an inspiration.  Sometimes they are a burden, but then I can simply disappear for as long as it takes to get my creative blogging juices going (side note:  what DID I blog about before Hazel?  need to work on a better diversity in my subject matter).

I encourage you to check out: 

life in grace

As many of you know, I LOVE being Lutheran.  My Lutheran family has supported me and provided for me in more ways than I can even mention.  But let's start with the basics:  a husband and brother-in-law.  Good stuff, trust me!  Edie, the blogger behind LifeInGrace is a fairly new Lutheran and I'm truly enjoying reading about her faith.  She articulates things so beautifully that I find myself wanting to shout MARTIN LUTHER IS THE COOLEST from the roof tops!  Being Lutheran is as simple as believing in being saved by grace.  That's it.  So simple and yet so gorgeously freeing and intricate. 

Edie also blogs about her home renovations.  Yup, another one of those moms who have an amazing house and make crafts look easy.  I'm half convinced these moms are aliens... but I shouldn't talk about my religion and extra-terrestrials in the same post.  Edie and her family lost their gorgeous home to a house fire right before Christmas.  Let's pause for a moment to think about how devastating that would be.  A moment letting my mind walk that path is about all I have the strength for.  So, join me in praying for Edie and her family that they may find the strength to deal with this disaster and that they find comfort in knowing that their heavenly home will never disappear.


It's a GIRL!

I'm so excited that I will be the mama to TWO girls!  Granted, I'm a little sad that I don't get to experience the opposite gender, but I have so much experience with girls... not to mention getting twice the use out of Hazel's extensive wardrobe and play-things.  Plus, though I hate to admit it, 'cause my sister reads this blog :)... there's something wonderful about having a sister!  It's unlike any other relationship and I'm very glad that my girls will have that special relationship.

Actually, this early morning post was inspired after watching my little girl-y nugget carry around her new doll (thanks Gma B), wrap her repeatedly in a blanket, pull out foods from her oven and offer it to her doll, etc.  Before we had kids, my husband and I were firm on the fact that we wouldn't gender stereotype our kids. 

Girls can love trucks, boys can love dolls.  Try as I might, I cannot get Hazel to play with her cars or build block towers.  Nope, she wants to push doll strollers, explore the kitchen, take care of her dolls.  It's truly an eye opening experience for me!  In fact, when I clean, she mimics me!  She'll grab a rag and "dust", she'll roll her IKEA popper while I vacuum, get the picture? 

Getting to watch Hazel with her 3-month old cousin, Annaliese has been very heart warming (for me, a little terrifying for Annie's mom).  All Hazel wants to do is stare at her, pet her, hug/crush her, kiss her (which is a LITTLE annoying since she typically refuses to give kisses to her parents!), and when Annaliese is not around, Hazel says "baby.  baby.  BABY.  baby.  baby."...

Yes, I think our house is ready for another girl to join us, I just hope she's a little more patient and not 5-weeks early!


Coordinating a lovely Christmas

It's the most wonderful time of the year. No, not the presents or even the abundance of favorite foods... it's the family time and special moments that made this Christmas my all-time favorite.

The Kosker Trio...actually, we're a Quartet (hello baby bump!)

Hazel and my parents smooching on our favorite Christmas present... my niece from Alaska!
Yesterday I was dutifully writing my lists of presents received.  By the end, I was feeling really Grinch-ish.  SO MANY GIFTS... SO MUCH STUFF.  I should feel grateful... I do... but I also feel guilt and burdened.  My husband thinks I'm crazy, but has come to believe that I'm telling the truth and that I prefer one or two really nice and thoughtful gifts over lots and lots of boxes to open.  Certainly, not the way I felt when I was a kid... but now that I'm in charge with running a house and finding a place for everything... and paying the bills, I have a whole new outlook on possessions.  My trio was mightily spoiled by our loved ones this year.  So, thanks to our families for spoiling us despite my Grinch-ish tendencies!  I'll just continue to work on being a grateful receiver as I snuggle into my comfy cardigan from my m-i-l (perfect gift for a preggo!), put on my string of Bead for Life beads from my parents, prep a dinner in my gorgeous new oven, upload pics into my digital picture frame from b-i-l and pack my adorable sister-made purse (no offense to the multitude of gifts not mentioned, you are appreciated too!).

Hazel LOVED opening presents (I feel as though I should write a Wikipedia entry on over-stimulation) and is having a ball playing with her new things.  Our favorite is an upcycled stove top that Grandpa Orris fit into a wooden oven.  Hazel is mighty lucky to have one of Santa's elves for a grandpa!  His woodshop has created quite a few favorite gifts and I see many more coming from there in the future!

Isn't her black velvet dress with a satin rose trimed neckline paired with her magenta tights and sweater ADORABLE?  I could seriously eat this child.  My husband was so proud of me for not putting her in red and green :)  If you noticed earlier, I couldn't resist and dressed myself and Jake in black for Christmas.  Too matchy-matchy for you?  I can literally feel my style-guru bff, Whitney, beginning to boil.  (SORRY, I listen, truly I do, but I LOVE to coordinate!)  Well, hold onto your britches because I coordinated one more Christmas surprise in honor of all the girls in my nuclear family being together.  Ready?  (you can never be truly ready for this!)

Step 1

Step 2

DRUM ROLL PLEASE>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Step 3

...And to all a GOOD NIGHT (preferably in matching pjs!).


Christmas reflections

This year I have been uber excited for the approaching Christmas holiday.  Perhaps it's because I sing in a community choir and have been practicing Christmas music since September.  Perhaps it's because I have a wee one to share it with who although doesn't understand about the wonderful Christmas Eve church service or the presents hidden in closets or the relatives preparing their visits, still loves standing and staring at the Christmas tree, looking at nativities, and finding treats in her Advent calendar.  Perhaps it's because this is our first Christmas in OUR house with OUR traditions being created.

I wish I could claim that I haven't had my Grinch-ish moments, but until I learn to be OK with giving gifts within my budget, I will struggle with the want to give nice gifts and the guilt of spending outside of my budget.  I love hosting company, but struggle with the desire for a cleaner, more organized house full of delicious gourmet treats.  (why doesn't Santa leave House Elves... you know, Harry Potter style?)

However, all in all, the magic of this season is not wasted on me.  Below is a poem my cousin, Kathe, sent me this morning.  It brought me a bit more of those warm fuzzy Christmas feelings and I hope it brings some to you.  If not, I've got you covered:  Later today, I plan to get my hands on my sister's camera and post a picture of Hazel kissing her baby cousin.  SO sweet!

by Anne Porter

When snow is shaken
From the balsam trees
And they're cut down
And brought into our houses

When clustered sparks
Of many-colored fire
Appear at night
In ordinary windows

We hear and sing
The customary carols
They bring us ragged miracles
And hay and candles
And flowering weeds of poetry
That are loved all the more
Because they are so common
But there are carols
That carry phrases

Of the haunting music
Of the other world
A music wild and dangerous
As a prophet's message

Or the fresh truth of children
Who though they come to us
From our own bodies
Are altogether new
With their small limbs
And birdlike voices

They look at us
With their clear eyes
And ask the piercing questions
God alone can answer.


Dear Santa

Dear Santa,
I want your full attention


I've been looking at lots of books, learning about Jesus' birth and how we celebrate by giving gifts to our families. I think this is a GREAT idea.

However, I'm a little worried that sometimes you hear my dada call me "a beast" and you heard my mama telling dada yesterday that I'm "getting a difficult temperment". Not sure what that means, but I think it might be a bad thing.
I ASSURE you that I'm a happy sweet girl as long as my schedule is followed and strangers (sorry Santa, but it's true) give me time to warm-up before grabbing me. What else is an almost 18 month old supposed to do when naps are ignored, babies are chained down in long car rides and I'm taken to non-baby proofed places where I'm not allowed to run free?

Anyway, I've taken (with a little help) a few photos today to show you what a great girl I am... in fact, I also overheard mama telling dada that I'm "growing up" and I'm a "great little helper". So, if you need another elf to help you (eat cookies) on Christmas, I'm your girl!

My babysitter gave me a doll high chair and stroller and I've been dabbling with pretend play with my dolls.  I hear I'm gonna have a LITTLE SISTER soon, so I need the practice!  This is me feeding the hungry...

...and then helping her eat her snack

One of my favorite things to do is dance with my parents.  They are total dorks about it, but it's a lot of fun!  Today I forced dada to take a break from building shelves and we had a Jingle Bell Rock Party.
I even practiced my driving skills in case you drink a little too much eggnog.
I helped mama wrap the presents I made... but she got annoyed that I liked to walk on the crisp wrapping paper and pull the tape out as far as I could from the dispenser.
I can be a really really good sleeper.  When I'm home and on my own schedule, I'll give the "I'm sleepy" sign and wait by the stairs until someone takes me to my bed.  I'll be taking really good naps all week so that I'm rested in case you need my help!
To spread Christmas cheer, I made sure to spend time with my great grandparents.
...and listened attentively to the Christmas story.

So Santa, as you can see, I had a really busy and HELP-FULL day.  I can't wait to see what you bring to my house :)



Snow Day Whoopsie

It's a SNOW DAY!  It never looses its glory.  All of a sudden, I have an entire day to do WHATEVER I WANT.  Ok, that's not true, what I want to do is put on my pjs and read a fluff novel.  What I will do is make a few Christmas crafts (which I can't tell you about until after Christmas), cook a nice dinner, do a little toy organizing (a never ending duty) and start some Christmas wrapping!  WOOHOO!

Now, why did I title this "Snow Day Whoopsie"?  Guess who was the ONLY one at work this morning?  LOOoooser.  Kinda like the time I was the only one to dress up for Hippie Day (it was the following week and shy, preteen Julie was MORTIFIED).

I shouldn't say that I was the only one this morning.  There were custodians and one rather sheepish tech guy... who came to apologize for not entering my phone number into the call system.  Now I just need to figure out who didn't call into the radio station that I listened to this morning, a radio station that is included on the school districts list of who to listen to. 

Oh well, at least my daughter is still in her pjs and having a wonderful morning with her grandparents Orris and her mama.  I didn't get home in time for Jake to leave for work, so he dropped her off with our neighbors (afore mentioned gparents)... and then FORGOT TO CALL ME.  LOOOooooser AGAIN!  He got a rather frustrated phone call when I arrived home to discover an empty house.

All in all, I'll forgive my morning whoopsies because I HAVE A SNOW DAY, NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH!


Working Mom Dress Rehearsal

The past month, I've been "trying on" the idea of a full-time working mom.  I accepted a long-term substitute school counselor position.  The PERFECT opportunity for me to really see how that works for my family.  (FYI:  I'm off today because my babysitter was unavailable, but then will work full days for the rest of the week.)

PROS:  it feels good to be a professional!  I enjoy my career (which was a pleasant and semi-unexpected rediscovery).  I'm in a small school with about 70 kids in each grade, grades 7-12.  SLOWLY, students are figuring out who I am and drifting in for college guidance, friendship issues, family troubles...  I love how my career offers such a cornucopia of things to do!  One minute I'm writing an article for the monthly newsletter that the counselor disperses, the next minute I'm researching colleges and brainstorming with a student, then it's crisis mode to help a young teen who has lost all her friends, and finally a meeting with a team of teachers to discuss student concerns. 

Also, though the 7am start time is DIFFICULT, it is good for me to be forced to be up, clean, and dressed... it's so true that I am more efficient when there is a set timetable.  (Not to mention the new clothes that are a necessity for being a professional!)  And lastly, the PAYCHECK with the future possibility of HEALTH INSURANCE (if this turned into a permanent position).

CONS:  Hazel who?!  I might get a few minutes with her in the morning, but then most days I don't get home till 5:30.  She goes to bed at 7.  See the problem?  UNACCEPTABLE!  She has a wonderful babysitter, but I hate not knowing exactly what she ate, played with, hours slept...  Not to mention that she is a SPONGE and I want to be the one teaching her and watching her grow.  The mornings are also a big shift for my husband who has to wake up an hour earlier...which is a big deal for a guy that tends to start major home improvement projects at 10pm.  Add to this the cost of a babysitter and once baby #2 comes along, I'll bring home less than 1/2 a paycheck! 

WHAT ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE THAT NEEDS TO GET DONE?  How is it possible to get a healthy home cooked dinner on the table every night?  Especially when my baby is ready to eat the minute we walk through the door?  What about Doctors appointments and the multitude of phone calls it takes to keep a house running?  When do people do these things?  I haven't even mentioned grocery shopping and cleaning the house.  Seriously, all on SATURDAY?  And where do I get this vast pool of energy from? 

It's such a tough decision.  I've been talking with some of my coworkers and the moms of young ones seem to all wish they could stay home, but feel that it isn't an option.  They need the money, the health insurance, the difficulties of getting another job in this rural area...  Major concerns, yes.  The "seasoned" moms seem to think that they'd be BORED if they stayed home.  Probably some people would, but that concept blows my mind.  Actually, the woman I'm subbing for is on maternity leave and has been texting coworkers about being bored and the lack of good daytime TV.  So clearly, there are many people who are truly happier working.  A good thing for me to remember... and accept that I am not one of them (or maybe my baby was just a little more difficult.  I was too busy soothing cries to even think about the boob-tube.)

Right now, I can say without a hesitation, that working full-time isn't what is best for my family.  Yes, we need the money, but my husband and I are pretty good with stretching a dollar and have always figured things out.  I think that a 1/2 time position would be the best of both worlds... getting to spend most of the day with Hazel while still having a balanced household budget.  As for health insurance, my husband and kids are covered (he through his work, the kids through the state), so I will be content with an inexpensive emergency plan... and stay away from germs!  So, we'll wait and see what choices we have in the future.  For now, I'm THRILLED that I'll be switching to 1/2 days for January and February (a necessity to keep my pregnant woman health insurance).  I need a little more sanity in my day-to-day routine.



Today is not actually a snow day.  Though it would be if we were in Oregon.  Then I'd be sipping a Dutch Bros Vanilla Latte... ooo... major craving.

Today IS the first day of December and our first true snow.

 Today is also the first day on our ADVENT calendar.  (note:  Sunday was the first day of Advent, but the calendars typically have 25 days on them, so December 1st is the unofficial first day of Advent). 

now, I'm not one to brag (or am I?), but I have the coolest Advent calendar.  I've blogged about it before, but I love it SO much that it'll probably be mentioned every Advent season!  My sister made it out of thick felt.  Each day has a pocket that I will be stuffing dried fruits/cookies/chocolates into.  This year I hung it along our staircase.  Each time Hazel and I walk along it, I can teach her a little about preparing for Christmas/ Jesus' birth.  This morning we counted the days till Jesus' birthday and Hazel found 3 dried cherries in pocket #1.  She is very impatient for pocket #2!

Today is also a day off for Hazel and I since I called in sick to deal with this cold/sinus infection/migraine.  I am now a card carrying member (not really) of the Neti Pot fan club!  Sweet relief!

This morning, as soon as it was light enough to see out the window, I carried Hazel over to show her "SNOW".  She waved "hello".  Then, about 2 hours later as I was indulging in the time to read my favorite blogs, I glanced over at Hazel ...who was sitting in a pile of coats, boots, hats and gloves.  Subtle.

there's a snow angel if I've ever seen one!
(note:  as soon as we walked out the doors, she threw the gloves on the ground.  Which reminds me, I need to go retrieve them!)

And since no one loves a crying sequence more than my family, here's what happened right after the above photo:
1.  Stumble and catch self with hands
2.  Distract self by exploring the white flakes that are stuck to fingers
3.  Realize that the white stuff is REALLY REALLY COLD
4.  Realize that Mama is taking pictures and laughing and not coming to the rescue!


Oh Happy Day!

Ok, I admit it, Saturdays are always my favorite, but after working all week (I took a long term substitute school counselor position at a local 7-12 building.)... Saturday takes on a new level of bliss!  Granted, I'm still on call (3 more on call shifts this month and then NEVER AGAIN!  Oh how I hate living life in limbo... and getting called out to the hospital in the middle of the night), but until that darn phone rings... I'm at home with the loves of my life.

Correction, the original love of my life is already at Home Depot.  This morning as he's running around the house and basement in his typical inspired fury, I checked my annoyance with him for not feeding Hazel while I cleaned the kitchen.  I am SO glad that I married a busy beaver.  He is so full of energy... good thing because he's even more full of ideas!  Today he is reorganizing our basement.  Actually, we are reclaiming it.  We bought the house months ago, but have been storing a lot of my grandparents things that they don't want, relatives don't want, but nobody feels comfortable getting rid of.  We also have a barn full of this limbo stuff... another day... another headache.

Later this afternoon our friend Superman Steve is coming over to assist Jake in building shelves and walls.  I can't WAIT to have organization in the basement!  I hope they have time to hang the coat and shoe rack... having a place to unload when I walk in the door will be orgasmic.  Yes it will!  Currently, we take off our shoes, carry our shoes and coats through the house to the guest room/office and then repeat in reverse when we want to leave.  Annoying.  (which is why we tend to have shoes and coats piled on chairs throughout the living room)

Then we'll have Steve's family over for dinner.  Let's hope I get to stay home for the dinner!

oooo... cold hands are reaching up my shirt tickling me!  Excuse me while tickle monster attacks the predator...

It didn't work, now she thinks it's play time.  Ok, Hazel wins.  I'm off to enjoy this giggle monster who has a budding sense of humor (we spent all of dinner last night making goofy faces and Hazel was HOWLING!  so fun!).


sweet 16!

It occurred to me late last night, that today I am 16 weeks pregnant and that Hazel is 16 months old! One of those things that I think are really neat and my husband can't understand why I'm even bothering to comment on :)

I'm thrilled to announce that the queasiness and all-encompassing fatigue have passed! I'm not energetic, but also don't need TWO naps a day just to make it till dinner. So glad I wasn't working full-time during the first trimester! Tonight is my first real appointment with our midwife. I'm SO excited. Last week I went to the women's clinic where I felt like herded cattle and the 2.3 seconds I spent with the Doctor left me feeling unimportant, uncherished, and ungoddess-like. Tonight when my midwife arrives at MY house and sits on my couch just to chat about everything pregnancy related that passes through my OR my husband head... I think I will feel important, cherished, and like a true pregnant goddess.

As I type, Hazel is standing next to my chair, her head on my leg, her hand pulling up my shirt to rub my side. It's aboslutely precious. She LOVES to show her belly and have it tickled and she also really LOVES pulling up mama and dada's shirts to peek a little skin. I love my 16 month old (who weighs 22 pounds and is just under the 50% for height and weight... quite a relief 'cause the girl eats CONSTANTLY!). It's too bad she won't remember this time in her life when our world revolved completely around her. Soon(ish) she'll be an older sister, but for now, she is my only baby and I'll read her board books 1000 times (per day) as long as she'll sit on my lap and snuggle!


Scaredy Cat

This is Hazel's first time playing dress-up.  To say that she didn't get it is putting it very mildly!  Despite the mirror we had ready, she rubbed and rubbed everytime dada tried to be artistic with the make-up.  Regardless, the result is bound to turn even the most feline-opposed into a true cat lover!

(notice that she had to stalk some prey... the elusive owl... in order to have a treat bag)
Hazel visited 4 houses this year and her bag was bursting at the seams.  I want to point out that I'm the only shmuck who gave her chocolate!  Kind of ironic for a mama who tries to be so careful with sweets :)

(she also had a mega cute tail... hopefully her Gma Orris got a pic of that!)



I wish...

I wish that I could feel emotions as purely as Hazel.
  • feel happy?  giggle and laugh.
  • feel needy?  walk up to a loved one and snuggle my face into them till they pick me up.
  • feel sad/angry/disappointed?  put my head on the ground and scream (it's funniest when she does this while still standing).
  • need attention?  smile at everyone around until they notice my cuteness.
  • once the moment passes... move on to the next task.  emotions have been recognized, felt, and eased. 
I wish that I had the life of one of my cats.
  • sleep all day if I feel like it with no guilt or chores piling up.
  • meow at someone until they provide food (ok, I wouldn't like eating the same thing all the time).
  • play outside to my heart's content... or until it's naptime again.
I wish I was a true minimalist.
I wish I could buy everything my little heart desired
   (notice the internal conflict?)

On that note, I am once again posting a HOLIDAY WISH LIST.  It's shameless, but I know some people appreciate the guidance... while others prefer complete surprises.  I truly don't need much this year...unless an in-home chef is in your budget.  So, mostly this wish list is for Hazel.  She's the one that's fun to shop for anyway!  I promise not to look and see what's been purchased.  You can use this as guidance or buy straight from the registry.  I'll be adding to it over the next few weeks. 

The Kosker Family Christmas Registry:


Favorite Season

I LOVE fall!  The colors, the SMELLS, the crunchy leaves, the pumpkin baked goods, the slight chill in the air... I love it all!

The past two weekends have been 100% sublime.  Here are a few of my favorite things:

Hiking on a bed of golden leaves.  Enjoying a toasty campfire (notice how helpful Hazel was to her dada in making the fire!).  Feeding Hazel her FIRST MOUNTAIN PIE :)

Playing in the sweet smelling leaves!  Below you'll notice that Hazel and Jake invented a new game that had them ROLLING!  Hazel feeds dada leaves, he accepts them, he spits them out, commence best baby giggling we've ever heard, repeat.  And... snugglin' with my loved ones due to that nip in the air.

Spending time with loved ones!  Here the Tost family visits our pseudo-farm for the first time.  The boys (2 big, 2 little) enjoyed collecting eggs, feeding our flocks of rabbits, quail & chickens, harvesting our pumpkin patch, riding in the tractor.  We had perfect weather and took a short walk around the property.  Gavin (4 years old) enjoyed picking up every huge branch/tree he could lift and playing in the leaves.  The dads were into their fatherly roles and enjoyed carrying their babes.  The moms spent most of the visit lounging on the couch... yup, a perfect weekend!


tv mom

In my mind, I am a perfect TV mom.  I have a perpetually clean house.  I always have a smile and kind word for my husband.  I put healthy, balanced, homemade meals on the table EVERY night.  I give my child only healthy, educational toys, which I fully engage in playing with her... along with a healthy dose of reading and music.  I never complain and my acquaintances are most often left in awe of my "togetherness".

Why is my reality so utterly different?  (Hazel has been standing at my lap screaming bloody murder the entire time I'm posting this.  The carpet under her feet is filthy.  She just licked snot off her lips 'cause the drips have been ignored while I'm writing this.  There's a frozen pizza in the oven.  And despite the fact that my hubby babysat this morning so I could have a Dr.'s appt. in peace and during that time he did laundry AND cleaned the fridge... I'm probably gonna fail at biting my tongue when he returns home from hunting... because you know, my life is so hard with one baby girl who just wants my attention...)

Thank goodness I'm not a Reality TV horror show!


Do what you love

I've enjoyed my bloggy break, but I'm ready to once again chronicle the life of my family and the randomness of my musings. I love blogging and wish I had an Assistant who I could verbalize my blogs to throughout the day and let him/her post them. However, that's not reasonable and I'm looking forward to using this as an outlet/journal again! We've got to do the things we love!

Speaking of things we love... we've discovered Hazel's favorite activity.

Playing the PIANO! Of course, this makes this music-lovin' mama very happy! A few weeks ago, we moved our keyboard out of the guest room and into the living room so that I would be more inspired to play piano and sing... things I LOVE. However, Hazel rarely lets me at the keyboard. She absolutely LOVES to play! She loves to bang on the keys, change the instruments, dance to the demo setting, and my favorite... play the piano with one hand and her drum with the other. How she figured this out, I'll never know, but she often drags the drum over to the piano! Recently, we lowered the piano so that she doesn't have to wait for one of us to pick her up onto the bench or help her down (also because I heard her playing a WIDE range of notes and when I checked on her, discovered she was walking back and forth ON THE BENCH!). I'm shocked at the amount of time she will spend doing this. Her attention span has grown exponentially!

What thing or things do you love that you would like to find more time for?
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teacher's pet

Meet Annaliese Maria

 (pronounced Annaleeza).  MY NIECE!  She is my first niece and I am really excited about my new title.  I get to love this child unconditionally, but also not respond to her when she cries in the night or poos her pants.  HOW AWESOME IS THAT!?  She is simply perfect... and I get to see this Alaskan Eskimo in less than 3 months!  Congratulations Marianne and Christoph, you're literally GLOWING these days (saw them via Skype last night, so I KNOW!).

btw:  my sister, Annaliese's mama, is a teacher... hence the title to this post.

Also, I couldn't resist pulling up some pics of Hazel to comare... hmmm... I think we have more twin cousins in the family (I'm often told that I look more like my cousins, Kathe and Phoebe, than my own sister).
Hazel at one week

Hazel at 2 months (which is closer to what she would have looked like as a non-preemie newborn)



I'm going to make it official, I'm taking a blogging break.  Not completely, but enough of a break so that I stop feeling guilty when days (weeks) go by and I haven't blogged.  The seasons are changing and I'm investing more energy into income producing tasks (psychiatric crisis work & running an after school tutoring center).  I love blogging, but I don't like feeling guilty when I'm too busy to log-on (I haven't been online for a solid 60 hours!).

I encourage you to sign-up for the email updates.  Your email won't be filled with spam, but when I do post, it will show up in your in-box.  That will save you the hassle of checking needlessly :)

Hazel continues to be the light of my life and everyone she's around.  She is one happy girl.  She has spent a few days at Day Care... and has amazed me with her independence!  NO CRIES during drop off.  She just begins exploring and playing, mostly on her own.  There is another girl her age there and Hazel has much to learn about sharing and being gentle... but it makes me happy to know that she does easily socialize with others and is well behaved when I'm not around (actually, it sounds like she behaves better!).  She is a snacking FIEND!  If there is not a snack cup in her hand, she walks around signing "more".  In fact, both Jake and I have noticed that she begins signing "more" even before her eyes are fully open in the morning.  GEESH!  She can also sign "hungry", say & sign "book" and she says "mama", "dada", "bok bok" (for chicken), "bath", "bye bye", "kitty cat"... ummm... probably a lot more.  She is definitely mimicking our sounds, studying our lips, and growing every day!

During my bloggy break, I am FINALLY going to make my 2009 photo album.  Now that Hazel is here, I want to do a yearly photo album.  No excuses.  (I'm talking to myself here).  I'm also going to get my Christmas-y letter written and MAILED!  Yup, it WILL BE OUT BY OCTOBER.  No excuses.  The reasons are:  I'm including pics from our photo shoot in July... and they'll be outdated by December; and we have a new mailing address and I want everyone to have our address in case they want to send us a letter!  So, if you want the Kosker update letter (or as Jake calls them "brag letter"), please make sure I have your address :)

Does anyone else feel like they're still celebrating the green leaves... and now they're beginning to change color?  YEESH!


Labor Day!

I had hoped to celebrate Labor Day with a phone call from Alaska saying my niece is on her way!  Granted, she's not due for a few more weeks, but I'm impatient to be an Aunt!

Instead, Jake worked like a horse around the property and I high-tailed it over to my parents for the day (partly because Jake's hard work included him cutting the water line!)

So, my parents and I loaded Hazel into the car and drove to one of our favorite spots... HEMLOCK BEND.  This is property that my dad and Uncle purchased, subdivided, and basically paid for my private college education (I even thanked one of the current land owners for that.  He laughed!).  Here are some pics of our Labor Day:

Hazel and I are standing on our "campsite" a small piece of land that we still own.  Behind us is a waterfall coming down the hill and below us is a gorgeous creek.  I'm hoping to camp there in October when the leaves make a golden bed on the campsite.

I hiked Hazel DOWNHILL to the Clarion River

Then my dad hiked her UPHILL (sucker!)

And last a pic to enjoy the greenery of Pennsylvania... and marvel at their identical facial expressions once again!


life update

Life has been busy on our pseudo-farm.  We FINALLY started getting eggs from our chickens :)  YUM... actually, between Jake and Hazel, I've never eatten one.... dirty rotten thieves!  Side note:  don't give fresh eggs to your baby to hold.  She will put it in her mouth (BARF) and then drop it (oops!).  Like my bro-in-law said, currently, each egg has cost about $500... so we need  A LOT more eggs to justify the costs of feed and housing for our flock of chickens!

Last weekend, Jake baby proofed our 2nd story main entrance porch.  Now that Hazel is a walker, we had to be so careful to never leave the doors cracked.  She is one fast baby! 
Farmer Cob hard at work.  He is a HUGE perfectionist, so this project took much longer than expected.  But it looks great!  Having my husband on a ladder for a whole day was my idea of hell (I'm a rock climber who is TERRIFIED of ladders.  Granted, we've got some bad family history with ladders!).

My dad was a huge help and offered to build us a gate for the top of the porch stairs.  We had NO idea what to do there, so it's helpful to have a wood worker for a dad!

With "her" men hard at work on the porch, Hazel enjoyed "supervising" from the yard.  We found my parents' old wooden play pen and it makes the perfect BABY CAGE :)

Wait, this feels like jail.  HELLO... anyone gonna play with me?  Is this jail?  HELP!

Other recent events:  2 weekends ago Jake and I spent the night with my cousin and her hubby, Michelle and Mike Uram.  I discovered that Mike is quite the culinary genius... I plan on visiting them much more often (ok, I really like their company too!).  Then the Kosker trio headed over to Lake Arthur to go for a family bike ride.  Let's just say it was a disaster.  Let's just say that Jake spent over an hour trying to fix his bike.  Let's just say that I rode with Hazel's chariot behind me and Jake drove to meet us at the end.  Let's just say that my bike doesn't work too well and the gears don't shift right.  Let's just say that it was a disaster.

However, then we drove to Pittsburgh where we enjoyed Shannon's incredible hospitality (as in, she give us reign of her apartment and even her bedroom!) and ate the most amazing Italian food with Tanya and Jason.  Then the Tosts and Koskers rocked out (kinda... I'm such a rocker... like rocking chair rocker...) at Jake's brother's band's reunion show.  It was awesome to see the Juliana Theory on stage again and we were once again blown away by Josh's talents.  Of course, the highlight for me was when the wife of another band member introduced herself... she recognized me from the photos Josh (Hazel's Uncle) had been showing her of his Niece.  He wins most adorable Uncle award for that one! 

This weekend we return to Pittsburgh because Shannon's bed is really comfortable and there's a bakery around the corner.  Ok, that's kinda true, but the real reason is that Friday night I'm taking a friend (Bre Chisolm) out on the town for her bachelorette party and Saturday is the boys night (for the groom, Trenton Moulin, a lifetime friend of mine).  LOOK OUT PITTSBURGH (yeah right!).


FrakenZel or HazelStein?

I kid you not... the following photos are unposed, unedited, semi unsupervised (I mean, how can I stop her from eating dirt AND photograph her walking?).  These photos took place over about 3 minutes...  it's the arms that kill me!  Slowly she is beginning to take a few cautious steps without her arms straight out, but like most milestones, I'm in no hurry to encourage that... 'cause her walk CRACKS ME UP!

(I'm addicted to collages.  Is there a help group for this?)  Click on the collage to view larger.


A perfect summer day.

Hazel goes to Cook Forest State Park! (a true summer tradition for the Orris & Krumich families. We are lucky enough to have relatives that have a cabin along the river... so Hazel will grow up loving this patch of land!)
Swimming in the Clarion River. By the end of the summer, the water is warm enough to actually enjoy (I have almost bath water standards) and the river is shallow enough to be able to walk 3/4 of the way across. Hazel had a blast playing in the shallow water with her Great Aunt Amy... and then later clinging to her mama while we floated in the deeper sections. For those of you that have been to Cook Forest, don't those pictures of the river bring the vivid smells of the river and the woods to you?

Of course, any true perfect summer day includes...WATERMELON! As you can see, Hazel loves it! I gave her a HUGE FAT piece that she kept dropping because it was so heavy... and yet, she made short work of it! Good to the last bite :)
And finally (or actually throughout the day), we dug out a 20-year-old-but-still-as-good-as-new baby swing. Oh man did Hazel L.O.V.E. that! Luckily for us, the owners of that swing (my Aunt Amy is pictured below) were more than willing to pass the swing on to us.



bad baby advice

My sister's gonna have her first baby fairly soon, and I thought I'd be helpful and give her a collection of the WORST baby advice out there.

I read quite a few books about getting your newborn to sleep.  One of them was adamant about having specific nap times and durations... as in, you put your baby to sleep at 1:00 pm NO MATTER WHAT and WAKE THEM UP at 2:00 p.m. NO MATTER WHAT.  At the time, I took it to heart, I mean they're the experts, but I looked and looked and looked in that book to find time tables.  I mean, how would I know how long to let them sleep and how often as they grew?  I was so frustrated and completely house bound because it would be so wrong to leave the house and interrupt a nap time...  Turns out, after I followed my instincts and let this little peach sleep AS LONG AS SHE WANTED (and wherever we were) it all fell in to place.  Fortunately, after a few months I figured out that she did sleep according to a pattern.  Since about 4 months of age, she can be awake for about 3 hours between sleeps.  So regardless of whether she falls asleep at 6pm (sometimes she does) or 8pm, I "help" her sleep through the night (anyone else want to write about the whole letting them scream it out idea?) and start counting down the nap clock when she wakes up (at 5am, 6am, or 7am).

WHAT'S THE WORST BABY ADVICE YOU'VE HEARD (and/or tried to follow)


the kosker's celebrate their 4th

Today is a rainy day, much unlike the perfect day 4 years ago when I married my best friend.  Yes, we canoed on our wedding day.  It's been incredibly (mostly) smooth sailing (paddling) ever since.  I love him.


comment snafu

Thanks to Shannon for pointing out that the blog comments weren't ever appearing.  I've been logging in under my Lazy Green Mama account and didn't realize the comments didn't appear for moderation.

So thanks to all 34 of you who commented!  It was like a comment Christmas for me :)


the forager's daughter

About a year ago, Hazel started urban foraging (remember when her dad was written up in a big newspaper about his urban foraging expertise? Hazel always joined him- snug in the Sleepy Wrap- on those early morning adventures. Here's the old post about it.)

Yesterday, I took advantage of Hazel's morning nap to gather the perfectly ripe blackberries growing about 20 feet outside my door. Is life good OR WHAT? I don't have to drive anywhere or pay anyone or worry about trespassing... these bushes are MINE! Unfortunately, Hazel woke up and I wasn't done. So I sat her on the path thinking she'd enjoy looking around and wouldn't move because that's what she usually does on the grass. LOOK WHAT HAPPENED!

I didn't teach her to go for the black ones... she just did! Is she amazing OR WHAT? I'm sure that this was her favorite snack time yet... despite the scratch she got when she got a little too adventurous. Darn thorny bushes (she didn't even cry, I just noticed it later!). Still waiting for this snack to "turn up". Yes, the excitement on the Kosker Farm is never ending...


i feel pretty

Liz just posted more pics of our family photo shoot. they are stunning. getting my family to look natural in a photo is as elusive as capturing Nessie... and yet... see for yourself!



successful shin.dig

Last week I threw my first BIRTHDAY PARTY extravaganza! The night before I panicked because I had so much food, but last minute friends (as in, I'm tacky enough to invite people last minute) pulled through and we ended up with a CROWD (I think we had 37 humans... 8 of them youngsters)! Here are a few pics from the evening (just realized I didn't take pics of the decor... oh well, lots of owls, balloons, and my favorite- a homemade birthday banner from my sis!)

Hazel was super! It was really hot and crowded, yet she enjoyed opening her gifts... almost as much as she loved playing with baby Olson (who she totally pushed over at one point). Olson's older sister, Amelia "helped" open the enormous pile of presents, so that made things much more entertaining. However, as you can see in the pic, Hazel did open some herself (that was a present she opened before the party... a bicycle helmet from Aunt Marianne and Uncle Christoph).

When it came to eating her owl cupcake, Hazel did not disappoint. Well, I think she wanted more icing (psst... just noticed that she is doing the sign for "more" in the pic where I'm holding her with the silly bow on my head. That was Amelia's styling. ANYWAY, her birthday weekend was the first time we noticed her doing that... so Ty, our photographer for the night, might have captured the true FIRST SIGN! Rock on Hazel!). You'll notice, that our sweet Hazel was willing to share her cake with her mama, dada, and Uncle Josh. How nice of her! She probably would have shared with anyone, but we're the only ones brave enough to eat off those grubby fingers :)

Soon I'll post her 12-month pics and reflection... and that will be the end of the monthly updates. My baby is now a toddler! *mixed feelings on that one!*

raising a human

This is my forum for being a sappy contemplative mom... just a warning :)

This morning Hazel and I were playing our usual early morning game: I lie on the floor of the living room, throw balls and soft blocks around while Hazel crawls over and around me. It's a nice way to wake up. Hazel is now drinking milk (other people call this breast feeding, but in the off chance that Hazel is an early talker, I don't want one of her first words being "breast") 2-3 times a day. The only time she really needs it is early morning. At 5 am, she wants a little milk and then wants to sleep for another 2 hours. The mid afternoon snack is nice especially if she is upset, but we often skip it. The before bed feeding is also nice as a way to wind down and cuddle, but she doesn't require it. I'm glad of that because that means other people can put her to bed. Sometime soon I'll experiment with not giving her the early morning feeding. Then I might get a whole night to MYSELF! I could even go away for a day... be ALONE!?!?! However, I L.O.V.E breastfeeding. It's so calming, cuddly and comforting to both Hazel and I. When we finally give it up, I anticipate a period of mourning. I know that Hazel and I will still have cuddle time, but it won't be the same. not as intimate. not as peaceful. not giving her life.

On the other hand, I've also been thinking a lot about other children in the world. I have so much love to give and I know there are so many children out there not getting the love and care they need to thrive. Sometimes when I look at Hazel, I can't believe that anyone could ever hurt or neglect a baby. They are gorgeous, full of life and promise, completely accepting, fascinating. Then the next minute, I can't believe that more babies aren't hurt or neglected because caring for a baby is SO MUCH WORK! Avert your gaze for 2 milliseconds and they've discovered something potentially hazardous in your uber childproof house. Miss a full nights rest and they don't give you the quiet-time or space you so desperately need.

Today I'm going to spend some time thinking about babies... and figure out how I can best help those who can't help themselves. As a school counselor, I have the opportunity to be a part of every kids' life. I like that. It's not only the kids referred to a counselor that I get to see... I get to see all kids. But is that using my gifts in the best way? Is that my passion? Is that career best for my family?


and the WINNER of Nellie's All Natural Laundry Products is...

Ok, so there were only 12 entries and 4 of them were my sister. This was fun for me 'cause I happen to know and love everyone who entered. That being said, I'm cringing knowing that some people are going to consider themselves LOSERS.... well, maybe they're right ;)


I find this delightfully ironic because
1. hers was the first blog I ever saw and it inspired me to start blogging
2. tonight I'm meeting with her for a photo shoot that I won on her blog

Congrats Liz! Hope Nash and Haven enjoy dirting their clothes as much as you enjoy your new laundry products :)

Cynthia/Marianne/Mom/Dad: I am mulling over how to host a LOSERS CONTEST. You'll be the first to know when I do ;)


GroBaby CD update

It's late and I'm tired and I NEED to work on closing up the Nellie's Giveaway, Bubble Pics and Birthday Pics... but I might have been doing a late night stroll through the blogosphere and I might have stumbled upon a fabulous giveaway and I might get an extra entry for blogging about it ;)

I've mentioned before how I'm a fan of the GroBaby diapers, but that their velcro doesn't stick in the wash and has kinda destroyed the cover and now barely sticks at all.... well, clearly I wasn't the only one griping and they've now come out with a new and improved diaper... the GroVia. Oh how I want to win one and try it out!!!

Do you want to win one too (and then give it to me... or not ;) ? Head over to Boutique Cafe to enter this giveaway :)


the eve of her birth

All day I have been reflecting on one year ago. Swimming for the first time in my pregnancy because with 5 weeks to go... it was time to get in shape! My water breaking around 10pm ("um honey?!? I'm leaking!?!"). The quick, leaky, nervousy packing for the hospital (I had thought about doing it before, but packing my bag that early seemed dorky), the labor...

Today I made Hazel her 1st birthday cake. The theme is LOOK WHOO's TURNING 1! I am quite pleased with my first effort at a birthday cake :)

I've learned SO much this year. Today for instance, I learned not to pack my bag of cake decorating supplies, set it on the ground, and then turn my back to finish washing the dishes. Guess tomorrow won't be Hazel's first taste of chocolate icing!


Giant Eagle & 7th Generation Mega Deal

This is just TOO good to keep to myself!  Yesterday, a friend told me about this deal, I jumped through the necessary hoops to get the 7th Generation coupons, paired them with Giant Eagle's current special (buy two packs of 7 Gen wipes, get a FREE package of 7 Gen diapers), and walked out of the store with TWO PACKS OF WIPES, 1 PACK OF DIAPERS FOR $5!

I'm not sure how long Giant Eagle is running this special, but 7th Gen lets you print the coupons twice... so I'll be going back today (note:  my Giant Eagle didn't accept the $2 coupon, but accepted the two $1 coupon.  Even if you don't take coupons, you'll only pay $7 for the deal!).

Here's where I got the info:  http://www.thethriftymama.com/2010/07/giant-eagle-1-pack-seventh-generation-diapers-2-cases-wipes-4.html

Disclaimer:  yes I am a Cloth Diapering Obsessed Mama, but after our last road trip, which ended with a fully packed car, diaper bag on the top of the heap... right at nose height... I decided that the torture of having to smell the dirty diapers was too horrid.  Sorry Planet Earth!


How 'bout a GIVEAWAY for YOU?

My Koskereaders have been a really good sport about this young whipper-snapper called Lazy Green Mama.  I'm trying not to ignore Kosker's Idlewild, but I know it often stays at the bottom of my to-do list.

So, I'm bringing one of my giveaways over here... JUST for you.  Ok, I have the same one on LGM, but since the company is awarding TWO winners... I figure I'll give one of the giveaways JUST TO READERS OF KOSKER's IDLEWILD.  Plus, it's laundry detergent and everyone regardless of family size/age/hobby uses the stuff (I hope!).
Here's the product review:
For a new blog, I have written about laundry A LOT! It makes sense… I do a lot of it and I enjoy it (GASP! I finally admitted it. I actually get mad at my husband if he “helps” and does a load. The whole {lazy} thing must just be a cover to hide this fact!).

One of the first companies I contacted to join this BIRTHDAY EXTRAVAGANZA was Nellie’s. I’ve seen them in the Gaiam catalog for quite awhile and the time was finally the right time to try it out. My laundry needs have grown exponentially with the arrival of Zel (Hazel's spy name for LGM) and I really dislike buying baby detergents, but she has sensitive skin…

My verdict: It’s fabulous. I got to try the Laundry Soda and the Laundry Nuggets (same product, but pre-measured… perfect for a {lazy} or busy mama!). I love that I can use ONE detergent for all of my family’s needs: mama’s yoga attire, Cob’s business casual AND farmer gear, Zel’s baby clothes & DIAPERS. This stuff is all-natural without any additives or fragrances (to quote a Nellie’s cartoon: “After all, you wash your clothes to get the smell out!”). Plus, it works just as well in cold water. Hello Planet Earth… we’re here to save you. (yikes, I need more sleep, eh? That was for Claude, my new Canadian reader! Oh and Claude, Nellie’s is a Canadian product! Cool, eh? Somebody please stop me!)

Truthfully, my favorite thing about the product… it really UPS my washer’s coolness factor. The packaging is cool. I’m a sucker for marketing. Even my father-in-law commented on it. Head to their web-site and I swear on my organic(ish) garden that you’ll find reading about laundry products ENJOYABLE!

As for the cloth diapers: It worked really well. I did a cold rinse, hot soak then wash, cold rinse. I do soak the diapers for 4-8 hours about every other load so I’m sure that helps. I don’t think it’s what I’d turn to when dealing with stains, but I’m ok with stained diapers. Anyway, I’ve got my eye on another Nellie’s product to deal with the stains… when and if I do want to tackle them.

Buy it:
Nellie’s All-Natural Laundry Nuggets (36 loads for $9.99. Also sold in larger quantities and in a cool tin!)
Nellie’s All-Natural Laundry Soda (50 loads for $9.99. Also sold in larger quantities and in a cool tin!)

WIN IT: You will receive both the Laundry Soda AND the Laundry Nuggets
*To enter, please just leave a comment telling me a laundry tip

Extra Entries:
*Visit Nellie's and leave me a comment (or add it to your previous comment) telling me which other Nellie's product you'd like to try.
*Subscribe by entering your email address (top left column of blog).  You'll get my new posts sent directly to your inbox!  (Leave a comment to let me know!  You are welcome to combine comments.)
*Follow me with Google Friend Connect (this is how I impress companies and get them to sponsor giveaways.  ALSO, I sometimes send Newsletters through this program).  (Leave a comment to let me know!  You are welcome to combine comments.)

Winner will be chosen by random.org.  All entries must be completed by July 8th (happy birthday Hazel!) at 11:59 pm.


Bubbles for Kathy.

A very beloved Aunt is conquering Round 1 of chemo this week. It’s not her first time facing this fight. Aunt Kathy is the matriarch of the Kosker family. She’s not the oldest, but we all look to her for guidance, counseling, laughter, understanding & faith. She is a survivor.

I don’t know even the details of her past fights (I hate that that word is plural) with cancer. She is always so focused on the present and the positive. She has taken each fight with cancer and turned it into a passion for advocating for others. She spends countless hours ensuring that other people with prosthetic limbs have the support and resources that she didn’t have.

She is GORGEOUS both inside and out.

Last week she shared with me how powerful imagery is to her while conquering chemo. One of her favorites is BLOWING BUBBLES. Blowing out the cancerous cells. STOMPING out the cancerous cells.

When a loved one is ill we often feel so helpless. We can fix meals, plant flowers, pray (in Aunt Kathy’s case, she’s so popular that there are teams of people already doing all those things for her). WE CAN ALSO BLOW BUBBLES!

Please join us in BLOWING BUBBLES FOR KATHY. Snap some pictures over the course of the next week of blowing bubbles. Before her next round of chemo, I’m going to present her with a collage of people joining her in this fight. Just remember to use the power of imagery while you do it: blowing out the cancerous cells and STOMPING them out!

Please email the pictures to lazygreenmama[gmail] by Friday, July 9th (so that we have time to organize and print them. Thanks to WilsonKlugh Photography for their willingness to assist this novice photographer with developing and to my dad, grandma & kitten for joining me this morning!) You are also welcome to repost this on your blog to encourage others to BLOW BUBBLES FOR KATHY.

Many thanks,

The Kosker Family

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them. Matthew 18:20