December 15, 2017

Tree Disaster of 2017

We had quite the tree drama this year.  After years and years of real trees from the woods I was done with the needles.  DONE.  Last year Abigail and I were tag teaming sweeping all day long.  So in June, just before Zachary was born, I found trees on amazing deals online.  I ordered mine and even though it took 6 weeks to get from Georgia to Alaska that wasn't a problem at all.

Come two weeks ago I went to set up this 9' tree we have been storing for 5 months.  The pieces won't fit together.  We used every tool under the sun.  They were manufactured wrong.  2 hours of customer service and we returned our tree to the store in town but our new tree is 5-6 weeks out from arriving.  Certainly not in time for Christmas.

The company gave us a free live tree as an apology.  Josh carried it into the living room, opened it and 1/2 of the needles fell on the floor.  The tree was so dead.  You couldn't touch it to put a light or ornament on it without loosing another gallon of needles.  No joke, really.  We actually collected a couple gallon bags of the needles because they do smell nice, they are just dead.

So in my frustration we put the tree on the deck.  Our house now has a small 3 1/2' tree that I have used as the "kids" tree for the past few years.  No new or adult ornaments are even being unpacked as our little tree holds the tiniest.  Honestly the kids think it is great.  They are super happy to have their tree with all the non-breakable ornaments to play with and for this I am thankful.  Yet also disappointed!
 I went out to remove the tree this week and decided we might as well have a little fun with it.  I moved it in front of our window and covered it with lights and red bows.  We lost about 7 more gallons of needles doing this but since it is outside that is ok.  The outer 3-4 inches of each branch has a color and it masks the dying state of the rest of the tree.
Abigail wandered in the woods and collected moss and she helped to decorate our new bit of Christmas.  I love that on these super dark days of winter the tree kicks on at 3pm as the sun is gone and the sky turns black.  It shines bright from the outside into our inside and helps keep things cheerful.  Plus I don't have to clean up the mess inside.  Just a little way we are making lemonade out of our lemon of a tree.  Christmas miracles all around.

December 14, 2017

Dear Santa

The kids got to visit Santa over the weekend.
 It is so fun that at this age they all are in love with Santa and were so very excited to see him.
 This is Abigail explaining to Santa that she wants a hand sewing kit for Christmas because she is too small the reach the peddle of mama's sewing machine.
 Ethan is making sure Santa knows the right kind of bow and arrow that he wishes for.
This year has been a good balance of fun and normality.  Visiting Santa and then playing in a huge gingerbread house - those are high points for sure!

December 13, 2017

Decorations

Once Abigail's birthday was over, the Christmas decorations could come out!
This little 3 year old, she has made each and every trinket and embellishment worth it.  I love her happy little spirit and hearing her play with each new item.  This year, Christmas is for her!

December 11, 2017

Big Monuments

A lot of big things have been happening at this house.  Last week we had all of our 1/2 birthdays and real birthdays and that filled our days.  With those birthdays came the milestone of eating solid foods for Zachary.  I have never had a baby more ready to eat solids.  When I put food on the table for the rest of the family he starts to yell, fuss and complain until food is ready for him too.  He is NOT to be left out!  He has also taken to grabbing my hand with the spoon and putting it in his mouth if I don't do it quick enough for him.
But this picture also marks one other monumental moment.  This picture was taken by Ethan and also Ethan's first time using Mama's camera.  Let me tell you folks, he loved it too.  What a sense of empowerment, maturity and age.  He now asks to use the "mama camera" all the time.  

December 8, 2017

6 Months

Today this little guy is 6 months old.  I can't believe we have had him with us for half a year.  He is such a perfect fit to our family.
The past few weeks has seen him roll over, get a cold and then get better, cut his first tooth and seriously work on the next one, out grow his bouncy seat, fall in love with his baby outdoor swing that is hung in the basement, LOVE his toys and begs for them, move to the middle settings for the exersaucer and fall in love with holding on to a blanket while sucking his thumb.
Our little guy is growing up and, as fun as that is, we will miss his baby days too.

December 7, 2017

Science Time - Crystals

The kids love crystals.  They love my rock collection of different quartz crystals.  
 So I figured it was time we made our own.
 It took a few days but we had a fun display of salt crystals.
 We also worked on making sugar crystals.  But as science goes, sometimes the experiments don't always work.
But the kids were pretty pleased that I had a stick of rock candy on hand from a few years back.  This way I got to show them what our experiment was "Supposed" to do as well as compare a sugar crystal to a salt crystal.  Plus the kids got to then eat the experiment.  That was their favorite part of all!  

December 6, 2017

The Big Day

Abigail is a planner.  That one word is everything to our girl.  She loves to plan and dream so much that her birthday is talked about every single day of the year.  This year her big dream was for a mermaid birthday.
 Monday night I mentioned to Josh that she really wanted a pin the crown on the mermaid game at her party.  He looked and me and said, "so you expect me to be able to just do that?"  Yup I did because the thing about Josh is he is amazing.  And you know what, that is just what he did.  While I decorated a cake he created the most amazing mermaid for her game.
And her mermaid cake turned out pretty great as well.  Each birthday there is a new challenge for this mama and I feel like the creation of a mermaid would have destroyed me for many years.  So by creating a "sea world" cake and adding a mermaid was the prefect solution.  All of the girls loved the real seashells and each of Abigail's friends took one home.
 One thing I love is the night before decoration for a party.  Little things like balloons and a table cloth mean so much to the birthday girl.  This year I also set out Abigail's baby book.  She and Ethan had SO much fun looking at each and every page.  This picture shows Abigail pointing to the picture of her first laugh.  I still can't believe we caught it on camera.  When I told her what it was she got so excited and said, "Oh, mama this is the moment when a fairy was born from my first laugh as a baby."  What a girl!
 She had requested a birthday dress.  I did get her one that she wore to the nutcracker over the weekend but alas I bought a size 7 and it was too big.  She found this one in her closet and was so excited to wear it.  What a joy for my mother to see as this is the dress she made me when I was a girl.  (The crown was also mine from my 7th birthday 29 years ago.  Abigail thought it was great but we got a reality check on how small her head is compared to mine.  The crown only stayed on by propping it on her ears for this picture.  We tucked it away just after.)
 This birthday marks the first time we had a party away from home.  I found the local bowling lanes at the university are quiet and available for rental during the week.  The kids had never gone bowling and this was the perfect introduction.  Super low key, not scores needed and we kept the balls rolling between adults and kids.  There was bowling, food, bowling, games, bowling, cake, bowling, presents and more bowling.  So fun with little to no rules at all.
 It is always fun to do new things and this little man had so much fun watching those balls roll that he had to agree!  
 Abigail's day went from the moment she woke to the second she dropped off to sleep looking at her new birthday clock.  I went in to check on her and she is so excited to tell me the clock hands glow in the dark and there is a second hand.  Oh so much joy and excitement!
A few things to remember:  
1.  Abigail waking up to tell me that the color pink is so six.  Now that she is seven her favorite color is orange. 
2.  Her shy smile as she told me that all of the kids at AWANA sang happy birthday to her and while she was so embarrassed it really made her so very happy.
3.  Her counting the phone calls that came in and how she was so excited to talk about all the fun things going on over and over and over with each call.
4.  Her looking at me and in complete seriousness saying, "You know mama, my other birthdays didn't make me feel any different but today, I really feel so much older.  I FEEL 7 today!"
5.  Her joy and excitement to get all her requested foods.  Breakfast - monkey bread and raspberry yogurt, Lunch - jelly and cream cheese sandwiches with cheetos, and Dinner - crab quiche with purple cauliflower.  

Happy birthday my girl.  You are so wonderful and celebrating you wears your mama out!

December 5, 2017

Seven Years

Abigail, today you are seven years old.  
As I put you to bed last night I told you your story from 7 years ago.  Oh, so many details are still so alive in my mind.  I will always remember that long day on December 4th, the clock passing midnight and your arrival at 12:33am on the 5th.  
This past year has shown us many changes.  Are are growing SO much.  You are so small in size and so big in personality.  
 You LOVE nature.  You get cold easily and so you don't love being out in the winter but in the summer it is great!  You have boxes and bags all around the house filled with your "nature" items that you love.  Fairy house building is such a favorite since it is all of the beauty of outside wrapped into one thing.
 You love to cook.  But if we are being really honest here, you love to cook sweets.  And not so much because you love the process of cooking but because you love to eat sweets.  Cooking breads, soups, casseroles or such - pretty boring and you will do it just to be with me.  Cooking cakes, pies, cookies and more - you are with me to lick the spoon!!
 Homeschooling has been such a journey with you and me.  We are still finding our way but what we have is so good!  After some hiccups in our direction this fall we have found the right path that is so much better for you.  You love being read to and drawing the best!
 You and Naomi are at a great age together.  So often I hear you both say, "we are a team."  You play so well together.  You take care of Naomi a lot and feed her need to still be the baby.  A struggle between you and me.  I want her to learn to do things on her own but you love her and want to keep the peace so you come behind me and help her out.  At the end of the day I can't be too upset because what I see is a sisterhood like my sister relationship.  Since my friendship with my sister is so valuable to me, I long for you to have that with each other.
 You have such big goals and dreams for your years.  In the future you plan on being - a doctor, an artist, a dog walker, a ninja, and a dancer.  You are an entrepreneur for sure.  I never knew that you could see that in a person from such a young age but now I know you can.  I am so far from this that I point you to your uncle for knowledge.  Maybe something about the two of you sharing a birthday that makes you so much alike in this area.
 You are strong!  You skate, dance, climb, swim, run and more.  Your body is small but Abigail you are all muscle!
 Your favorite subject in school is science.  You love the creating aspects of life.  The artist in you adds to your love of science and I often find myself blending the two subjects for you.  Not a hard task at all to do!
 Abigail you are often serious but once in awhile - you get us laughing and I love it.  The past year I have often had to remind you that you are just six and that you need to enjoy childhood.  Let me do the parenting right now as you will have many years at being an adult.  As a first born this is hard for you to do.  How I long for you to enjoy as many stress free days as you can.
I love taking you places and watching your life unfold.  I love reading with you and watching you get into a story.  I love how you tell me about the mental pictures you make in your head of stories and how you reflect on them often.  
 I love how you love your baby brother.  Although you have to be reminded often he isn't a toy, he is most certainly loved.  Each and every day you can't wait to hold him and find all he does wonderful.
 You also love your Ethan.  There are times you just want to scream at him when he gets in your space but the relationship the two of you have is priceless.  You announced to me this year that you wish I would just go away for a little while because you could mother Ethan.  You are confident you could cook for him and if he gets sad you are able to read your school books.  Ethan thinks the sun and moon rise and set on all of your actions and ideas and together you two make quite the team.
 You, my dear, love to challenge any obstacle in your way.  I know that you don't give up easy or give into fear!
 But with all this growing up you are still little.  I love that you still love your baby dolls.  I bought you a more grown up doll two years ago and still haven't given it to you.  The time just isn't right.  The time for baby dolls will come to an end and I will be so sad when that chapter ends.  So for now I love each and every time I see you with baby Anna.  The days between your connection with her are lengthening but I am thankful, for now, that you still have her.
Abigail, my girl with big dreams, I love you so.  Happy 7th birthday.  You are so very loved and I thank God daily for you and the plans that He has for your future.

December 4, 2017

3 1/2

Saturday we got celebrate this little lady.  The past year and a half with our Naomi has been intense.  Her emotions, growth, mood changes and volume of disapproval over so very much has been very tiring.  On the really bad days I remind myself that Ethan and Abigail went through this too and we have gotten past it but really, most days there was no end in sight.

Something happened a week ago.  I am not even joking.  I asked Naomi to do something and she said, "Ok, Mommy."  I stopped and stared at her.  There was no resistance at all.  We went outside and she went with a smile, unbelievable.  When she told us she didn't like her meal we said, "Ok but that is what there is to eat." her response was, "Thats ok."

Folks, I am trying not to get too excited but really!  3 1/2 might be a golden age that has gotten our girl to a better place.  
For this, I am more than happy to celebrate!!


December 1, 2017

The Start Of Advent

December and the Christmas season is certainly an exciting time around this house with four kids.  Already Ethan and Naomi are asking if it is Christmas day - everyday - and we don't even have our tree up yet.  Mothering through the holidays is preparing for a marathon, not a sprint.  Little bodies and minds get so excited about each and every aspect.  So, as in years past, I try and pace us.  Little by little.  A decoration here.  A cookie baking day there.  It works and keeps the energy going for the weeks leading up to the big day.
Our favorite way to start into the holiday season is to go for a ride on the Santa Train.  Our local park dresses up the little tourist train with christmas lights and we go for a ride through gold rush town, also dressed in lights.  It is a cold trip but one that is so very fun as well!
Season of Advent has begun.

November 30, 2017

Not Just For Hiking

5 pm, dinner needs to be cooked, two hands are needed, Daddy isn't home yet, what is a mama to do?  
Thankful our new hiking backpack is available even though hiking season is many months away.  

November 29, 2017

Science Time - Motion

The study of gravity, longer vs shorter distances, the density of the ball and angles.  All data collected might be slightly corrupted by how excited the test subjects were and their ability to wait until the count of three to drop the ball.  
Science is fun.

November 28, 2017

A Worker Party

As the third born, Naomi is often following kids with more mature, grown up, I have "already been there" thoughts.  So when times come for her to be three on her own, I love it!
The other day she came to me with a request for a tea party.  I was so excited to give her the chance to set up a party, by herself.  Amazing how I have to work so hard to keep the others from taking over her ideas.
But she had her idea in mind and she set to work with just a little help from me for snacks.  Hard hats were a required part of the tea party since this was declared a, "worker's party."
She did all the serving, organizing, pouring and inviting.  She was so proud and so was I!

November 27, 2017

Celebrating Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving was a low key, fun day at our house this year.  Since we had all had the week off of school the week before for travel, we had school everyday last week.  Thanksgiving included.  But that actually was fun as we could incorporate thanksgiving themed activities in all day long.   Since we didn't host a big meal this year I made sure that the kids were involved in all of the aspects of preparing the meal.  So much easier when the house doesn't need cleaned, dinner at a certain time or presented a certain way.
Abigail and I started the day by bringing math into Thanksgiving.  We listed each of the items needed to be cooked and then I had her write out the time schedule needed so everything could be started at the correct time.  A good activity for my girl who asks me, "why do I ever need math" so very frequently.  
 We all celebrated that daddy was home with us too thus a second teacher was available in the school room.  We read the whole Magic Treehouse Thanksgiving book to the kids that day.  Daddy read the first part of the book while the kids were working on handwriting.  
 Of course the kids got to help with the cooking.  We tried a new dinner roll recipe for honey rolls.  It was ok but I think I will keep looking for a better recipe.  Seems a fine line between dinner rolls that are slightly sweet and sticky buns.
 Thanks to Grandma and Hobby Lobby visit I had made the previous week in Texas, the kids had fun crafts to make.  Each year we do a lot of thanksgiving crafts and I have to admit with all that is going on, it was fun to have things be a little easier this year and let the kids make craft kits!  They have had so much fun playing with all of their creations each day since.  I keep reminding them that soon we will take them down and put up Christmas and they beg for a few more days of thanksgiving decorations, ha ha.
It was fun to let the girls set the table with our fine dishes and silver.  To tell them the story of their great-grandmas who gave us the dishes and silver from both sides of the family.  So often the finer things are saved for company.  I love using them for when it is just us and reminding the kids they are so special too.
 We took a short break in the cooking to watch Charlie Brown's Mayflower Voyage (my favorite Thanksgiving video) and then had the mad rush to finish all of the dishes for the table.  
I look back and am so pleased with how our day turned out.  Each year is different.  Years at home, visiting family, out at the cabin last year, hosting friends and being just us.  I love them all and each holds special memories for me.  The end of the day, I am thankful for all the Lord has blessed me with!

Tree Disaster of 2017

We had quite the tree drama this year.  After years and years of real trees from the woods I was done with the needles.  DONE.  Last year A...