Friday, December 26, 2014

Our Christmas

We had a more solitary Christmas than we had intended.  We were able to visit with my parents and sister the last weekend of advent, with plan of my parents coming down to see us on Christmas Day--due to illness we weren't seeing Justin's parents at Christmas, though we did visit with them at Thanksgiving.

The baking was done and the groceries all purchased, but Kate had a fever pop up.  She and Ellie had a cold before, but it seems that she picked up the flu while we were away.  The next day Nate had a fever too.  So Christmas left us in quarantine!

Thankfully the kids didn't feel poorly, despite their fevers.

They opened their pajamas on Christmas Eve.

We celebrated with gift opening and baked breads in the morning--orange nut, chocolate chip cranberry, and cinnamon rolls (from a recipe that a fellow teacher gave me when I was still teaching).

A little after noon we had a full turkey dinner, with all the trimmings, with our Christ candle lit.

In the afternoon we opened the presents from my in-laws for the children and had left overs for dinner.

It was quiet, but I was so grateful that for our family a case of the flu doesn't lead us to fears of ER visits and hospital stays.  Our children are healthy.  They are here.  With full tummies and presents to boot.  We had a very blessed Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Funny

In children's section of the art museum there were several signs indicating things that one could do with a smart phone.

Kate: It was take a picture with your i-phone, make a video with your i-phone.  I-phone, i-phone, i-phone.

Nate: Nope.  Eye ball, eye ball, eye ball.  Use your eye ball, you goober.

*     *     *     *    *

We obviously don't have an i-phone.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Funny

I mentioned to Justin about a little gal at church that reminded me of Kate and her verboseness as a little bitty gal.  So we were discussing how Kate decided to be a trash collector when she was little.

Nate pipes up, "I'll be a trash collector, and I'll have a wife!"

"Really, what will she be like?"

"She'll be nice."

"What will you do together?"

"We'll go on dates.  Like eating dates, and movie dates with popcorn, and walking dates.  And we'll go to parties."

"Will you have parties at your house?"

"Oh yes!  A big party."

"Can I come?"

"Yes, it will be my little boy's first birthday party.  We'll have cotton candy, and those beans that are like coffee beans [Jelly Bellies], and a beef roast."

*     *     *     *     *

And unlike Kate, I could actually see Nate making this his career.  Not for the stuff, but to drive the big truck.  We'll see what career he picks and what wonderful gal he chooses.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


It's that time of year.  We put up the tree with pretty lights, and shiny ornaments and tell the little ones not to touch it.  I knew that Ellie would be the most challenging of the children at their one year Christmas.  She's always busy and also has more hours to get into things, since she sleeps a couple of hours less a day than the others did at her age.

We started with just the tree and lights.  After she was able to not knock it over for a few days, we added our ornaments.  True to my expectations, the bottom third of the tree is quickly being emptied as we have begun to move the ornaments she removes.

It was Ellie's turn to put the angel on the top of the tree this year.

I think she likes the tree!

A quote I read on FaceBook this week: They put a big tree in the middle of the living room and said "don't touch." Didn't work in the Garden of Eden and it's not gonna work here. ­čî▓ -the Honest Toddler

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Funny

Overheard from the back of the van...

Kate: Have you had lime juice?

Nate: No.

Kate: Have you had a lime?

Nate: Yes.

Kate: Well think of a lime and take away everything except the juice.

Nate: Hmm.  I need lime juice.  And bacon.

Gabby: I don't think that's right.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Shoe Boxes!

I've been able to pack Operation Christmas Child boxes with several different groups over the years, but this year I got to be with the girls' AHG troop as they packed their boxes.  They resided in my house for a couple of weeks, but we were able to drop them off yesterday afternoon!  The fellow who was volunteering at the drop off center told us that after a stop off in another part of town our boxes would head for a hub in Atlanta and then on to Africa!

The troop preparing to pray over the boxes

 Some of the boxes in my trunk--they didn't all fit there!  We also were able to print bar codes to place on the box tops, so once they arrive in the country to be distributed we'll get a message telling us where they ended up.

My little American Heritage Girls ready to drop off the boxes.

Kate at the drop off--she forgot her coat and it was below freezing.  Brrr.  Nate helped with the heavy lifting.  He got to pack up a box to take to our church.

We made a stuffed toy together to go in his.  I've worked with the girls on sewing and he has demanded to keep up, learning to whip stitch.  He'll at least be able to fix a hem and sew on a button when he's grown.

The girls made little dolls.  Gabby was putting the gathers in a skirt here.  This was a sample that we showed the Tenderhearts in her troop when they stuffed dollies for me one evening.
(tutorial here)

The drop off point!  We went in and had the chance to pray over the boxes again with the volunteer collecting the boxes today.

The best part of the event this year, for me, was learning that one of Justin's students had received a shoe box as a child before his family immigrated to the United States.  It was the first present he ever received.  For many years, he kept the box, because it meant so much to him.  You can give a child their first present and a glimpse of the love of God all wrapped up in a little shoe box.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Life Lessons in Chocolate Chip Cookies

Once upon a time I was a special education teacher.  My students and their parents taught me a great deal about compassion, tenacity, and a great many other things.  Most of the time these lessons were beautiful and wordless.  There was one lesson, though somewhat less poignant, that has stuck with me.  I think of it every time it snows.  Twelve years ago I was teaching in a rural district outside of Cincinnati.  It was our first year in our first house.  We had so much snow that between it and scheduled holidays and in-services we didn't have a five day school week from some time in December until March.  I was reveling in all that I was able to accomplish in my new home.  One of my student's parents did not like the change of schedule quite so much!  In the communcation notebook where we wrote about her son's day so she would know what he had been doing that day, she wrote that, "Some day when you have children you won't like snow days either!"  At that point we'd been hoping for a baby for more than a year.  I promised myself that on snow days I would bake chocolate chip cookies with my children.

This week is arguably the busiest of the fall for us.  The girls are in a play this week, so between long practices and more performances than we were planning on (it got bumped from two to three).  I planned the day to include spelling and physics before sending them off to practice with some tasks to do between scenes.  Then I heard the shouts, "Snow!  It's snowing!"  For those up north it would barely be called flurries, but down here in the south my kids were excited about snow.  So they bundled up and played outside while I baked them chocolate chip cookies.

I get that it is hard to have your plans turned on their ear.  It isn't always easy to rearrange your schedule, figure out what you're going to serve when you weren't planning for so many at lunch, and  you might have had to put something extra special on hold, but I want my littles to know that I am glad that they are around.  They got wet and cold pretty quickly, so we were able to have their spelling, but though we may not have had that physics lesson today, they did get a little lesson in being valued.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


My little man is FIVE!
You are full of energy,
 Learning to read,

 And love to tag along with your big sisters' studies.

You are funny!

You love to work with your Daddy

 and build Legos with him too.

You adore your baby sister.

 You tell me that you want to be a fire fighter and an EMT when you grow up.

You got a bike this year too.

 Happy 5th Birthday Nate!  (Cake a day early due to busyness of today.  He picked a coconut cake with chocolate covered strawberries).

You are my little buddy, and I love you bunches!!!

I hope that you grow to be a strong and wise man.  Happy birthday!

Friday, October 31, 2014


Happy Halloween!  My kiddos have been asking to have a Harry Potter party for month and months.  We opted to make it in October as a sort of birthday party/Halloween party for all three of the big kids.

Last Saturday was the day!  I wish I had a ton of pictures, but I was so busy that I only got a couple.

We began with the sorting--each child drew a colored stone from a witches hat for the sorting.  We only had two houses: Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, since I thought everyone would want to be in Gryffindor and no one in Slytherin.  We had several younger children along, so we just called them blue and orange teams for them!

I used Mason jars with the same stones to keep track of house points as we played games.  The first class was transfiguration.  The kids each drew an animal to transfigure into (charades).  The smaller children had a separate set of clues with simple animals like dog and cat and a picture to help them know what they drew.  The older set had some common animals and some magical creatures mixed like a unicorn, hippogriff, and a dragon. (10 points for each correct guess)

Then we had charms class.  Each student had a wand (straw).  The house who was able to levitate their feather the longest won.  This class was very short.  Neither class lasted 5 seconds!  It we were to do it again, I think I would use a balloon instead. (50 points to the winner)

We had planned to have broom stick races outside as well.  The weather was good for it, but several of our guests seemed timid, so we opted to skip it.

Then we had one of my favorite parts of the party.  I had made a Marauder's Map, complete with the Latin words around all the rooms, and quite a few clues.  Some of the clues led you to pick something up (a dragon egg, Trevor the toad, and a phoenix feather), while others just led to the next clue.  The items earned you 10 points when they were turned in.  The goal though was to find the golden snitch.  The last clue gave its location in simple riddle.  It took the teams a little while to find it (I used a Ferraro Roche candy with yellow feathers hot glued to the wrapper).  (150 points to the finder)

Then came the feast.  I really wish I had snapped a picture of the table!  We had:
Professor Sprout's veggie tray
Snitch Cake (a ball cake with wings from a hanger and netting)
Pumpkin Pasties
Chocolate Frogs (I used a mold)
Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans (Jelly Bellies)
Olivander's Wands (pretzel rods)
Miniature Baskalisks (gummie worms)
Polyjuice potion (a mix of pistachio pudding, cool whip, pineapple, and marshmallows)
Viritaserum (water)
and Butterbeer (easy and dairy free for a friend, aside from the cream on top)

I also made wands from dowel rods.  I used a glue gun to fashion handles.  Then we painted the wands black and the handles silver.  They were all somewhat different that way.

Lastly, I made a huge Daily Prophet as a photo back drop.  I had headlines cut out that the kids could choose to have pictures with.  We didn't get a lot of pictures there, but there were a few!

Monday, October 20, 2014

No Rest

I know as a Mama there are going to be interruptions to sleep.  After a couple of weeks of a stomach bug making its rounds though, I was so glad it was gone, so I could finally sleep...

Then a smoke detector went off randomly at 1:40 in the morning.  On the second beep I was in the hall with the baby in my arms, Nate following me, and Kate had gotten up on her own.  Justin went to get Gabby.  It was pouring rain, so we had the kids stand at the front door without actually going out into the rain.  We've had trouble with our garage smoke detector a few times lately--mostly when there was saw dust in the air.  It turned out that our garage door didn't close when the button was pushed because of a piece of paper blocking the safety sensor.  The rain interfered with the detector that night.  Whew.  I couldn't believe it, but the baby girl went right back to sleep, despite the odd interruption, loud noises, and bright lights.

Then we had a major thunderstorm.  The thunder was so continuous I got up to check the weather.  Kate joined me and so did Nate.

Often Nate will hang out in the hall in a sleeping bag until Ellie falls asleep, since she'll often fuss for attention from him, and they share a room.  This week when Justin went to move Nate, Ellie stirred, so we decided to let sleeping dogs Nates lie.  Unfortunately Nate talks in his sleep, a lot.  After being awoken several times, I got up and moved him to his bed.

Maybe some day these random things will cease and I'll actually sleep through the night every night for a week.  Maybe!

Saturday, October 18, 2014


My dear, sweet, Gabby turns seven today!


She has grown up so much, but somethings about her are the same as always.


There are few pictures of her by herself, as she tends to shy from the camera if she doen't have Ellie with her.

She has learned to read, quite well.  I worked with Kate daily for years...  Gabby I taught, but she's been on her own a bit more after that initial period, with more sporadic reading practice.  She still loves books!  She has a tenacity about her!

She is fun and funny.

She is motherly and snuggly.

I love you Gabriella Georgia-Marie!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Like Pulling Teeth, Or Actually Pulling Teeth

When Gabby's first teeth in the bottom became loose and wiggled out all on their own, I was delighted.  Kate has had to have several teeth pulled because her adult teeth came in behind the baby teeth, not cutting off the roots of those baby teeth.  I also had the same problem.  My rejoicing may have been a tad premature, because her second two adult teeth did come in behind her baby teeth.

Her dentist was concerned enough about her spacing issues to send us off to an orthodontist before he removed those baby teeth--thinking we may need to take out some adult teeth too.

Our trip to the orthodontist couldn't have been better.  They asked on the form what things she liked--and everyone read it before they talked with her.  They asked about her baby doll and really seemed to want to get to know her.  Since it is her birth month they baked her cookies.  They gave hugs and were just delightful. The orthodontist was encouraging.

After our visit, we had our plan to just remove the baby teeth.  We scheduled that with our regular dentist.  At this point, I must say how extremely thankful I am for pediatric dentists.   From the moment we mentioned the dentist helping her wiggle out those teeth, she has been excited about the tooth fairy, the dentist, and the tokens they give out at the end of the visit.  She was dragging Justin out of the house to go in the morning!

I was concerned that she might be less pleased when she came home, but there was no need to worry.  They are so good at keeping all the scary out of the kids' line of sight.  She never had any pain at all.

On a related note, I think Justin may stop telling me when he has fall or spring break...  Last fall break he took Kate for an extraction, spring break, he took me, and this time he took Gabby along with all the other work he did over the weekend fixing two leaky tub faucets and changing out his breaks.  He went back to work to get some rest this morning!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Funny

Me: So, what do you all guess is the thing I say the most?

Nate: No

Gabby: Don't hurt Ellie.

Kate: I love you.

Hmm...maybe I need to rethink this whole 'no favorites' plan!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Friday Funny

I'm 108 months old! -Kate
I'm 83!! - Gabby

Friday, September 26, 2014


Katie-Girl you have grown so much!  You are so tall, of course, but you've grown in other ways too.  You have become one that can understand reason more, as you have grown.  We can hold real conversations now.  You're still filled with girlishness, but there is more and more of an understanding of the world.  You are working more diligently, which I greatly appreciate too!

I am glad that you are a smart little girl, but I am even more proud of you for wanting to help other people.  When I asked you if you thought I valued your grades or that you were compassionate toward people more, I held my breath as I waited for your answer.  I was so pleased that you knew that we value compassion over academics.  I wasn't sure that I'd done a good job teaching you that.

I love your curly head,

your brown eyes,

wide smile,

quick wit, 

and your heart.
(sewing a doll for Operation Christmas Child)

I hope that this year is filled with much joy for you!

Love always,