Monday, August 29, 2011


The other morning the boys and I made play-doh. Making homemade play-doh is one of those things most people don't realize is really easy to do and so much better than store-bought (add to that list homemade popcorn and homemade marshmallows). All you need is  flour, water, salt, and a bit of cream of tartar (actual recipe can be found here)

While they were playing, it struck me that play-doh can be an amazing tool of play and learning. They played all morning with their dough and thought up lots of different things to do with it. At one point they made hammers out of the dough and were banging the table with them to "fix" the table.

Tommy helped measure the ingredients and mix them together as they cooked (cooking skills!). 

Finished play-doh. Looks a lot like mashed potatoes. Needs food coloring.

Next we added food coloring to each of their balls of dough to make it their favorite color. They learned that yellow and red make orange, and blue and yellow make green. They kneaded their dough until the color was uniform (they needed help with this part, as kneading can get tedious). (Science! Fine motor skills! )

Ben making a dessert with his play-doh. He called this strawberry-banana soup. (Imagination! Creativity!)

Tommy decided to make "dinner", so he made carrots with his orange dough, and negotiated some of his brother's green dough for peas. (More imagination! More fine motor skills!)

Then the boys decided to "have dinner". They brought out every little bowl they could find and filled it with dough and declared each bowl a unique type of food ("This is egg soup!"). In this picture Tommy is folding a "napkin" made out of paper. (Cooperation skills! Make believe!)

(Not pictured) - cleaning up the dough. After they were done playing, there was a big dough mess in the kitchen and dining room. So the boys cleaned up everything by themselves (I took care of the dishes). They got out their broom and dust-pan and sweeped everything up. (Life skills! Responsibility!)

Monday, August 22, 2011

An Open Door

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” 
- Alexander Graham Bell

This week marks the official end of our infertility journey. At the time that we started the process of IUI four months ago, we had decided to end it at three cycles. Then we realized that the first two cycles were actually just practice. It took the doctors two months to hit the right combination of medication necessary to make my body do what it was suppose to. The third IUI procedure was the first that actually had potential to succeed. When that try failed, we opted for a fourth round. We decided that we would be content with the outcome of two good tries. 

Now that the fourth procedure is complete and was definitely unsuccessful, I do feel content. I feel relief that this crazy two-year-long roller coaster ride is finally over. There won't be any more medication, tracking of cycles, or wondering if every little twinge of my body is a pregnancy symptom. Two years of that was quite exhausting, mentally, emotionally, and physically. We are relieved that this door is closed and we can finally walk away from it.

And so...

We are opening the door to adoption. We first talked seriously about adoption two and a half years ago after my miscarriage when God changed our hearts to want more children. After I miscarried in March 2009, I didn't want any more children. I honestly felt like I had dodged a bullet. But over the next few months, that changed to the point where God  was able to show me the blessing of having more children. We talked briefly about foster adoption, but for various reasons we ultimately decided to reverse Mark's vasectomy. That was two years ago this month.

We started talking about adoption again about six months ago while we were still pursuing infertility treatments. We started reading books about adoption. One that really struck our hearts was Adopted for Life (I highly recommend this book, even if you think you're not interested in adoption.) We also read Radical, which has nothing at all to do with adoption, but seeks to jolt Christians out of their cozy American dreams and urges them to do something with their life that reflects the faith they profess. These two books combined was the beginning of my shift of focus away from my desire to get pregnant and towards adding to our family through adoption. 

We want to clarify that our choice to adopt is not us settling for second best. It's true that we spent a lot of time trying to conceive a child before turning to adoption. In retrospect I see that we needed to complete that part of our journey before we could peacefully shut the door on it. We are excited about foster adoption. It's a huge need, as there are some 1,600 children in the foster care system in our county, but only about 400 licensed foster care homes. 

Please keep us in prayer for wisdom and discernment as we navigate this new course. I know this will be a difficult road, as all adoption journeys are. But we will be depending on God to guide us when we can't see what's ahead.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

This Kid...

...made his lunch today almost completely on his own. He assembled and cut his peanut butter and honey sandwich, sliced an apple into wedges (I'm still wondering how he managed that with only a butter knife), and made a really good attempt at slicing cheese, but ultimately needed my help slicing with a sharp knife. Then he decided he needed a banana, so he sliced that up too. 

He ate everything on his plate and was still hungry, so he had a some yogurt afterwards. Now I understand the stereotype about boys eating everything in sight!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Winter Garden

It's August. Time to think about school. Recover from vacation. And figure out what to plant for the winter. This will be my third season planting a garden, and already I've learned a lot about gardening. Like always obey the fine print on the seed packet, because it knows what it's talking about. And don't plant a whole box of chard all at once because in four months you'll be drowning in it. And don't be stingy when you thin seedlings...crowded plants mean less food. 

Here is my plan for this winter's garden:

Boxes with 'x' over them are summer crops that are still growing from the summer garden. Boxes with dividers that read '1,2,3' are where I'm going to attempt stagger planting: sowing seeds at intervals of 2 weeks so that crops ripen at a rate that we can actually eat them. The first round of seeds were sown today, the next round will be on or around September 1st, and the final round on September 15. Most stagger planting advice I read said to plant at intervals of 3-4 weeks. I'm speeding up the process to just 2 weeks because I can't plant any later than September 15. I hope it works! 

 Lineup of this winter's yumminess. Missing from the lineup is quinoa, because it's hanging out in the refrigerator to improve germination. At least that's what the fine print on the seed packet said. And I plan to listen this time. I chose veggies that we really like and we eat a lot of. The exceptions are beets and quinoa: I got beets just for fun to try them out. I picked up quinoa because the watercolor painting on the seed packet showed an enticing rainbow of red, yellow, and green grain and the fine print promised it's an easy plant to grow. 

Benji sowing some Oak Leaf lettuce. 

Tommy sowing beets.

I joined a local CSA called Eating with the Seasons and our family has been trying to eat only produce that's in season, grown locally, and grown organically. That means no apples in May, no blueberries in February, no asparagus in September. At times this can be inconvenient because it forces me to work my meal ideas and recipes around what is currently available. But on the other hand, it makes me savor each food item so much more because I've had to wait for it to arrive.

We've been mostly eating 'in season' produce for a while. But for a few weeks now, we've been eating only what grows in our garden or comes in our CSA sack. The exception is bananas because they simply cannot be grown anywhere locally and they're too useful to give up. This has given me new motivation to take my garden seriously! I'm so thankful that we live in such a temperate climate and we can grow our own produce throughout the year. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Staycation 2011

This year, in lieu of a traditional family vacation, we opted for a 'staycation'. We did the math and reasoned that a seven-day-long plan of staying in the area and visiting local places would be about 50% less expensive than just two days at a vacation destination. So we opted to stay home, sleep in our own bed, and not have to pack any luggage.

And so, I bring you, the 2011 Knapp Family Staycation: 

Day One: San Francisco
This was actually our first trip to San Francisco in five years, and the first time with kids. Our previous trip was a really bad experience, so we never wanted to go back. It was only because friends urged us to try it out again that we finally relented and decided to give SF another try. We're glad we did because we all had a lot of fun. 
Taking the early morning Baby Bullet train to San Francisco. The kids were thrilled to be on the top deck. We were thrilled that the trip only took one hour since it only made about five stops along the way.

Watching and waiting for Muni. Riding public transit was half the fun of our trip. During our visit to San Francisco, we rode a high speed train, a light rail train, a bus, a streetcar and a cable car, and the kids were thrilled with each ride.

Exploring a boat on Hyde Street Pier.

Concrete slides of Golden Gate Park. Quite possibly the longest and fastest slide our kids will ever ride.

Day 2: Gilroy Gardens
Mark took the boys to Gilroy Gardens in the afternoon while I stayed home and had some time to myself. I used the time to clean, catch up on laundry, nap, and read. 

Look at how fun things can be when Daddy takes kids to Gilroy Gardens!

Riding a worm orbiting an apple core.

Dinner with Daddy at a local Mexican restaurant. From what I hear, the kids absolutely loved this place.

Day 3: San Francisco again
We enjoyed the first day so much and only got to do a fraction of the things we wanted, so we came back for a second day.
We took a boat tour of the bay and went underneath the Golden Gate bridge. The kids were really excited to see the bridge the first day we came to San Francisco, but it was so foggy that we couldn't see it at all. They were pretty bummed about that. So they were excited to go close to it and underneath it on the boat.

Tommy has been asking to go to the beach for a few months now. We found this little beach area right by Ghirardelli Square and the boys had a lot of fun playing in the water. There was a man nearby making a sand sculpture of a mermaid, so the boys were inspired to make their own sand castle sculptures.  

Playing with sand at the Exploratorium. This was an amazing place for kids to play and learn. It's a little too old for our kids' ages, but I can see ourselves making many visits here in a few years when they can understand the exhibits a little better.

Blowing bubbles at the Exploratorium.

Waiting for a bus.

Taking a late train home from SF. We tried to be on the 6:30pm train home, which would put us at our house by 8:00pm, but we missed it by an hour. So we ended up pulling into to the station at San Jose at 9:00pm. Tired kids and tired parents (and I'm sure tired commuters) were very thankful for the peace afforded by the tiny edition of Cars on my iPhone.

Day 4: Gilroy Gardens again
For our second trip to Gilroy Gardens, we took two of our nieces. The kids had a ton of fun together, and we learned that taking four kids to a park isn't much different than taking two.

Day Five: Monterey
We went down 17-Mile Drive because it has several diverse beaches, all within a few miles of each other. There are sandy quiet beaches, rocky cliffs with loud crashing waves, and everything in between. The boys loved exploring each beach, playing in the sand, climbing over rocks, and exploring tide pools.
The seagulls were fearless and aggressive. They actually stole food right out of Benji's hand while we were sitting at a table eating our lunch. And I'm sure doing things like this (feeding them out of our hands) aren't helping!

Exploring tide pools. Tommy was afraid this crab was going to hurt Mark and wanted him to put it back in the water as soon as possible.

A trip to the beach isn't complete without burying kids in the sand.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

7th Anniversary

Happy 7th anniversary to my love and my best friend! 

Photo by Benji