Friday, December 31, 2010

Naming the New Year

While reading Ann at A Holy Experience this week, she shared that she "names" each year. When she shared her desires for this new year calling it The Year of Here.... I was right there with her.

Oh, how I desire to really live and enjoy each moment, versus being consumed with all that is needing to be completed for the next step. To savor each moment I am given instead of rushing through it to grasp the next!!

But then I started thinking and praying how I should "name" or even approach the new year...

There is soo much craziness in my daily routine right now.... my teething and fighting-naps baby, my pre-Ker and K-er pushing to do more schooling, trying to challenge my 6 yr old, keeping a busy constantly-lived-in house, etc...

that really lead me to choose words like Consistency, Discipline and Routine.

But then when I really had some quiet pondering time, I thought of words like Grace and Cherish.

The difference of the two sets of words reminds me of one of my favorite and VERY convicting stories...

Martha and Mary

38The Lord and his disciples were traveling along and came to a village. When they got there, a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39She had a sister named Mary, who sat down in front of the Lord and was listening to what he said. 40Martha was worried about all that had to be done. Finally, she went to Jesus and said, "Lord, doesn't it bother you that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me!"

41The Lord answered, "Martha, Martha! You are worried and upset about so many things, 42but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is best, and it will not be taken away from her."

Luke 10:38-42 (CEV)

Usually what I get out of this story is that I need to have times of quiet, when I can soak in God's truths.... a morning quiet time, moments during an afternoon naptime or even time to ponder over a sermon. And that I am soo much like MARTHA... always freaked out by what ISN'T done and needs to be done!

But this time as I thought about the story (thinking about this New Year), Christ's statement about Mary "got me".... Mary has chosen what is best!

Whoa! There are soo many "good" things that take my time during the day....

But are they "what is best"? Do I always choose THE BEST??

So I really want to strive this year to Chose the Best.
The Best meaning the activities that allow me (and my family) to grow in our faith, encourage and strengthen one another and serve others.

And it is fleshed out in every aspect of my life....

In how I use my time...
What I say to my children & my husband .... And HOW I say it:)
How I use our finances...
How I school our children...

And with humility I am going to say this is will be a challenge as well as an awesome learning experience because Choosing the Best, may not always be obvious to me.... I"m sure there will be bumps and apologies.

But it's also very freeing... I don't have to "do it all"! And I don't have to get frustrated about a messy house after a great morning of schooling with the kids. I can have a devotional time and leave the dishes... just for a bit;)

But my prayer is that I would continue to grow in my walk with the Lord as I rely on Him through the year:) That the BIG things would be Big things and the little things will get done "in time"! And that as I become more faithful to grow that my family would reap the benefits and I would see them grow as well.

Off to enjoy this NEW YEAR with my awesome God and the sweet family He has given me:)

Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Oh, Brothers!

When we found out we were pregnant (with Nate) Chris was insistent that we would have a boy...

he would have a Brother! He was right, out came Nate a few months later:)

There is a BIG difference between girls and boys!! BIG and obviously different from early on:)

Just this week as we watched Little House, the difference was CLEAR!! We've been building up to Laura and Almonzo FINALLY getting together... and so they are at a social and "kiss".... yes, kiss! And Anna is just beaming, blushing... she's just loving it!!! And Chris.... he's got a grossed-out face and he's hands out blocking himself from watching it....

no wonder he wanted a brother;)

And then there is little Nate! Monday he decides to attempt to climb the stairs.... at almost 8 months old....

what was he thinking???? Trying to break his brother's climbing records???

Or did he know that his Daddy was right behind him!! Of course! A fellow BOY, I might add... who understands a boy's need to CONQUER... I mean climb:)

This week as we all have a little time to "chill" (AKA we're stuck inside b/c we have a stomach virus and there's melting snow outside!)...

I've noticed the "brother bond" forming!!! It's been forming for sometime now... but it's become more and more obvious that my two little men are starting to "speak the same language"!

They play a little rougher...

Nate LOVES Chris' toys...

If Nate leaves our sight, he's headed to Chris' room or the bathroom (he LOVES baths)! And he loves Chris' room because that's where the toys and usually his siblings are (at least when they are downstairs)!

Nate currently isn't sleeping in Chris' room, but I heard Chris talking to him the other day. Chris said,"Nate, when you get a little bigger you can come sleep in my room with me. You'll sleep in my bed down here, and I"ll sleep in the top bunk. And we can play with all my toys!"

so sweet:)

And so finally it was Chris' turn to bath with Nate... they take turns since they all love to bath with him...

... maybe it's because I'm a little more lenient on splashing;)

Chris has a brother!

And Oh, brother! There are some wild times ahead:)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Out in the Snow... finally

Christmas night we waited for the snow.... and waited.

By morning, we were NOT disappointed,

well not disappointed with the appearance of SNOW. TOns of it and it snowed the whole next day and night:)

But we were disappointed with the fact that we couldn't travel to Grandma and Grandaddy's until the roads were safe again:(

Sunday, church was canceled due to the snow and road conditions. The kids and Brian were out in the snow by 9:30 as it was falling;)

Nate and I got out after his afternoon nap later that 1st afternoon... I was really wanting to get Nate out in the snow to see how he would react:)

He took it all in:) And didn't even mind the snow falling in his face OR being set down into the snow!!!
In fact, even though he looks a little grumpy (from his ONLY 20 minute nap!!), he actually fussed MORE getting him into his 4 layers to go outside;) And he fussed to go back OUT when we headed back inside!
The older ones LOVED the snow;) We need some better snow gear... especially better boots & gloves!! But I'm going to start looking for snow suits as well so the kids don't have to wear 4 pants!!!!!

After all that great Sunday snow fun, we all crashed and woke to sickness on Monday!!!

I started feeling sick first, and then Lydia joined me on the couch with a bucket... yuck!! I wasn't sick long, but it wiped out my energy completely... to the point that once I heard Nate crying and just didn't have the energy to pick him up:(

Thank goodness Brian was able to take care of everyone and the house (it was soo clean at the end of the day!!). Needless to say, we didn't do much outside Monday... Brian did manage to shovel outside and make a grocery run!

Late Monday night Anna started with the virus.... and she (and Brian) were up most of the night!!

By Tuesday afternoon (and after a couple of meals in my belly) I was ready to get back outside for some snow fun:) I was soo glad that Lydia was feeling well enough to go with me and Chris joined me later;) And we got to build some friends;)

Obviously I'm NOT a snow artist... even with Chris' help!!

I surprised Chris with this one (he added the chalk when we were decorating the snowman)...
Chris came out of the house to see my "dinosaur". He was soo excited and asked,"MOMMY! Did you make that Stegosaurus for me??"

Oh, such a sweet question! Of course I quickly told him I did and asked if he liked it:)

So thankful that we got to play in the snow for a few more minutes together (even had a snowball fight with Brian... I need to work on my aim!!!)

And that it seems we are all on the mend:) And hope to see Grandma and Grandaddy soon:)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

No Gifts & First There were 4...

I mentioned in a previous post that this year we were "cutting back" on Christmas... one of the biggest changes was decided with our siblings NOT to exchange gifts. We gave gifts to the children of the family and reasonable gifts to our parents, but not to each other.

I have to be honest.... it was weird...

Not that we've ever lavished gifts on each other, but to be empty-handed during gift giving with our siblings is strange...


Yes, even when it was mutually decided on.

Christmas Eve we attended a service at church. Brian lead the devotional time with some characters of the Christmas story; a story I have know almost all my life but had never noticed before. He highlighted the shepherds of the Christmas story.

As the shepherds obeyed the angels and "rushed" to find Baby Jesus....what did they bring Him?? What did they bring to the ONE the ANGELS of HEAVEN told them about? What did they bring to God's SON???

See, the wisemen brought costly and symbolic gifts...

But the shepherds brought NOTHING..... NOTHING...

Christ's 1st visitors brought Him NOTHING!

Of course their visit was filled with obedience( to the angels' directions), awe (at the birth of God's Son) and joy! And then they shared the good news with those they saw!!

So some of my "insecurity" about not having gifts for our siblings were comforted and we were able to enjoy visits with our families.

Brian's brother and sister-in-law on Christmas Eve...

And then my crazy growing family on Christmas afternoon...

my dad leading a devotion before presents
(so precious since he became a Christian later in life, after I finished college!)

My favorite kid and presents pics of the day (some at our house, some at my parents!)

These were soo precious (stinks they are fuzzy)... Hannah Grace wasn't 100% but she was soo excited to get a baby from Grammie and Pey:)

I grew up in a house that had 4 kids...

when we're all together with our families now, it really doesn't seems like a big crowd. But looking at a picture of all of us together... fiances included:) We've got a crowd and are still growing... :)

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas!!

From our family...

to yours:)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I've Debated....

this whole month about just dropping Homeschooling...

just for the month

I know some of you think it's crazy and my kids will suffer and fall behind. But truthfully there are sooooo many super lifelong skills and schooling involved in preparing and enjoying the holidays...
  • helping to write our family Christmas letter (which didn't get completed this year... so sad!)
  • baking cookies (reading recipes, measuring ingredients, following directions)
  • learning & singing Christmas carols (reading, singing and ministry opportunities)
  • Visiting older neighbors
  • making gifts for others
  • planning gift purchases for others (staying in a budget, hunting for good prices)
  • Advent reading and activities (spiritual growth, development and reading)
  • and the list goes on...
We have really cut back on all the "extras" this year.... which has come at the perfect time. I"m not sure WHEN I was going to get all the baking and Christmas shopping done??? So I have felt less stretched soo thinly....


I have felt very RUSHED.....

We're rushed to get school completed each day so I can complete another "fun" holiday task. We've really rushed through and even neglected our Advent calendar, so we can prepare lunch or get everyone a nap before our evening activities.

Each evening I"m rushed through our meal, sometimes an activity and then to get all the kids in bed so I can shop (online) for a few more gifts or wrap a gift or two, decorate or work on our Christmas card..... all things I LOVE to do!

So instead of finishing off our week with school book work,
we are going to finish reading some more Christmas celebration books.

Wrap some presents for extended family TOGETHER! Trying to keep them from Nate!! I don't think the laundry basket idea is working... LOL!!

And do some Christmas activities that I've been wanting to do with the kids...
Like this project about the symbols of Christmas, how they originated and what they tell about Christ or remind us to do at Christmas.

We'll see what happens next year.... but with some extra planning and some creativity, I think a couple of weeks off (of formal school books) would be an awesome way to prepare and celebrate the whole Christmas season!!

I'm linking up to.... (if it happens this week!!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

WW: The Real Reason...

Thanks to Chris for this drawing.... totally his own idea. And only when I really stopped to look at his picture did I realize what he'd actually drawn:) Baby Jesus in a manger (under a Christmas tree!!!).

Truely sweet and inspirational!

Thankful for the reminder of the Real Reason for Christmas!!

Luke 2:15- 17
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.

You can find some other picture posts at 5 Minutes for Mom, Go Graham Go, To Be Thode and !!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Appeared.... and everywhere!!!

The reason for the quick naps and fussiness,

The reason for the constant gnawing on EVERYTHING, has appeared.

Or rather, they have appeared!! In a pair;)

I've also wanted to blog what a goofy little boy Nate is!! We've been laughing at the antics and things he is getting into and enjoying....

he is a hoot (and a messy little thing)! He's EVERYWHERE!!!!

Just last night as the kids were enjoying a cookie dough snack (lol.. they'd rather eat the dough and they can when we don't use eggs). Chris ran off quickly leaving his snack on the blanket unattended and Nate saw his chance...

Before we knew it, Nate was covered in cookie dough. Going after it with all force;)

He sooo needed a bath, he even had oatmeal bits UP his nose:)

And he has discovered where I like to keep my magazines;) The pages are all crumbled with missing pieces every so often:)

Why are babies so amused with the crumbling paper sounds?? And the taste of paper??


And this afternoon he was keeping his sisters from their Sunday afternoon nap....

Standing in his crib, calling out to someone to come get him:) And giggling with them when they caught his eye!!!

He started doing it last week and I got a pic then:)

LOL... from the pic you can tell he is currently sharing a room with his sisters;)

The girls were up in arms the other day.

Nate was in the walker and had made his way into their room while they were cleaning it.

And he brought with him one of our ornaments off of the Christmas tree!!

And the antics have JUST started..... we have MONTHS and YEARS of more to come:)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Delicious (and easy) Chocolate Chip Cookies;)

A while back at the allergist, they encouraged me to sparingly bake with eggs to see if Chris and Lydia would be ok with small amounts of eggs.

While that was GREAT news, it's also a challenge. When is it really a "good" time for the kids to have a reaction??? I mean, really..... when do we really want to stick a kid with the Epi-pen or rush them to the emergency room???

I have used eggs for some boxed brownies when in a rush to fix them for a church function (although I LOVE homemade brownies soo much more and will probably continue to make them from scratch). And Lydia and Chris have so far been ok with the few eggs I've "snuck" in!

Last week while baking I pulled out another new bag of flour (we got through flour like CRAZY around here). I noticed a few recipes on the back of the bag and one really caught my eye! It was for Ultimate Double Chocolate Chip Cookies!!! But what really caught my eye was that it called for ONE egg.....

and all the other ingredients we CAN have too;) A Perfect Recipe!!!

And they turned out delicious.... soo good!! We made them for ourselves last week(and this week) and to bring to 2 parties this week:) Soooo good that I thought I should share....

Ultimate Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 8-13 minutes

1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup Butter Flavor Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening
2 Tbs milk (we use soy)
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (we did a cup!!)
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (we left this out)

HEAT oven to 375F. Combine brown sugar, shortening, milk and vanilla in a bowl. Beat at medium speed with mixer until light and fluffy. Beat egg into creamed mixture.

COMBINE flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix into creamed mixture until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

DROP rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.

BAKE at 375F for 8 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies, or 11 to 13 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet on a cooling rack; remove cookies to rack to cool completely.

***The only changes we made was to cool the cookies on the baking stone and then transferred it to another thinner cooled baking sheet lined with waxed paper. And we only baked them like 8 or 9 minutes .... they were very chewy when first from the oven, but when they are cooled they are perfect!!

Makes me sooo hungry to bake a couple more batches!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Outside in the Snow

We've been battling the FREEZING cold weather by staying indoors.

But when we saw snow falling this morning the kids were dressing....

layer... upon layer... upon layer!

I really did debate, working through our schoolwork before letting them OUT!!

But when they started asking they already had on three pants, like 4 shirts and trying to find their mittens and hats:) So we ditched our studies until the afternoon;)

And I was soo glad we did...

Nate's 1st "play" outside in the snow (he was tired and wasn't very impressed!!).

And the snow didn't last long.... it soon turned to rain, cold rain! so sad :(


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

WW: Wagon Wheel or Spoon???

Which will Nate choose to eat???

If you're wondering why he has a spoon... he's happier at meals when he's holding a spoon or fork:) Don't ask me why, but it works and he loves them.

And this Momma can enjoy a few bites of her own meal:)

Oh, knows. Maybe he'll use them earlier since he's gotten soo much exposure to them:) He really likes the kinds that have "soft" parts at the ends so he can chew on them.

And he chews on everything:) For good reason...

there are two little teeth that can be seen, just not felt yet:)

You can find some other picture posts at 5 Minutes for Mom and Go Graham Go!!!

TTT: Tormenting of the Christmas Tree

One of the easiest ways to torment our sweet and familiar Christmas tree is to steal the ornaments:) And Nate is quite the thief!

And just today as I was in the kitchen preparing lunch, Nate turned the corner and got out of my sight for a few minutes. And then I heard Lydia from the dining room (where the tree is), "Oh, Nate.... nooooo!"

Then she comes to me with a crumbled up wet piece of construction paper. "Nate ate Baby Jesus!"

And then there is The Shake!

Oh, yes.... I would have never let the others do this to the Christmas tree.... but I've lightened up some;) And it's just too precious and funny!!


This has nothing to do with Nate or the Christmas tree.....

The kids were watching a video that had a male & female cartoon kissing. Anna immediately responded,"ewwwww!! [turning to us] Oh, Daddy, you and Mommy don't kiss on the lips, do you?"

LOL!!! Of course we answered that we do.... lead to more "ewwww"'s!! ha haaha aa