Thursday, February 28, 2013

Shwowtid.

I'm so sorry to have neglected my blog. I sent myself to bed early last night with a terrible migraine. I seem to be suffering from them a lot lately and would love prayers to figure out why and how to kick them out on their backside!

I was up very early yesterday doing some party prep and making my grocery list and I thought I'd peek out at our guardian snowman, only to find him smashed beyond recognition. I felt really sick about it. I know it sounds silly. After all, it was just a snowman. But to explain to your children, who are innocent of the ways of this evil world, that some person lacking kindness and goodness, came by in the middle of the night and smashed their hard work to pieces....not an easy thing to do! Their sad faces broke my heart:(

In good news, we are working hard to prepare for this party on Saturday! I finally got off the procrastination train and the creative juices have been flowing. Finally. Hopefully I can get everything cleaned and put together with minimal stress! We'll see. I'm just really glad I don't plan parties for a living or something. Kudos to those people! Next year, we just may be sticking with a fun family activity. Maybe parties every other year? haha. I bet that would fly really well with them, don't you think?

I leave you with a sample of Zakkai's cute writing. They went to see a theater play of "I'm Going On A Bear Hunt" for a field trip on Monday and must've been asked what their favorite part was. Zakkai wrote,

"I liket the sho. I liket when they shwowtid the wotre (water) guns at us and I got shwowted in the face. Zakkai Thomas"

Haha, I cherish these writings!! Oh and p.s., "Shwowtid" means "shooted" which means "shot." In kindergarten speak:)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Let It Snow!

 We're finally getting our winter at the end of February! This morning I was out and about getting pelted in the face with sleet while taking Z to his 6 year check-up. (He's nice and healthy! Tall and a healthy weight!). By the time we left the drs office at lunchtime, the icy sleet had turned to snow.

And it hasn't stopped snowing yet!!


And lucky for the boys, it's perfect snowman building snow! They finished their homework in a jiffy and raced out to play and build a snowman so that we could see it from the window. Here is Miss E watching the action:)


I peeked out and was amazed at the size of their first snowball!!


Here's the boys rolling up the strangely shaped head:)


Missy wasn't feeling too well today, as she's coming down with (another) cold. Blast these winter germs! She and I just watched and took pictures from the comfort of our warm (ish) home.

They got stuck when trying to lift their humongous snowman parts on top of each other so they enlisted the help of Daddy.


Quick as a flash, their 6 foot plus snowman was put together and ready for some decorating!


They had so much fun that I was almost tempted to join them. Almost:)


They found a scrawny carrot for a nose, some charcoal for the eyes, cheerios for the mouth, a scarf and someone even gave them a pipe for his mouth!! I'll have to take a good picture from outside tomorrow so you can see. All the neighbors walking by seemed to enjoy watching the boys!

Anyone else think the snowman has a little resemblance to E.T.??



I just have to share my latest project with you!! I am so excited about this one! And disclaimer, in no way am I intending to brag or act like I'm some put together bloggy, blog mom (gag); I just really love to do stuff like this and enjoy sharing!

I almost never sew anything for myself but I spotted this bag pattern and knew I had to make one for myself! I should admit here and now that I do have a bag fetish. Just so you know.

I learned some really cool new things while making this! I put in my very first zipper, as you can see in the front zippered pocket. Not nearly as scary as I thought:)


I learned how to put in eyelets to make the purse sturdy for the drawstrings. (the bows).


I did magnetic snaps for the bag and for this cute inside pocket!


Oh, I'm just crazy about this bag! I still entertain the idea of making and designing bags to sell someday. To share the love with people who also love bags like me:)


And something that is fun about this bag is you untie the bows and pull it out to make a huge bag to fill with whatever you want! A fun travel or beach bag maybe?


Lots of room inside!! It took me over a week to make it because there were a ton of steps involved and I needed some special tools to pound the eyelets in place and got stalled after I ordered a tool that didn't work and had to send it back and wait for the new one.

I think I just might take this fun bag on our vacation to Florida next month! That's right, our family is making the long sojourn down to Florida in a few weeks to visit my grandparents. What's even more fun is that we'll be meeting my mom, step dad and my sister and her little fam down in Georgia and we'll travel the rest of the way together!

Woohoo!


And I leave you with another (terrible) shot of our new guardian. He sort of looks like a dog snowman in this picture.....but don't tell the boys I said that!

Ciao!

Monday, February 25, 2013

The 3 Amigos

It was really quiet as I was preparing dinner the other night so I peeked around the corner and this is what I found:






I do love moments like these!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sweet Dreams...

He may be 6 years old but he's not too big to fall asleep listening to Daddy read a bedtime story....




Sweet Dreams!

Hello!

We are still alive and well! I haven't had much of a chance to be home or on the computer the past couple of days, which really helps my Lent decision about the internet! haha.

Today Eliana and I went to MOPS. She has adjusted SO well to going into her 2 year old classrooms at MOPS and at church on Sundays. It was really tough for awhile but we had great teachers working with us to help her adjust. It's fun to see her happy to go play and to hear her chatter on the way home about what she did. She'll say, "Ms Barb. Pway Puzzles! Goldfish." And this afternoon she kept singing some song about the Bible. Not sure if she was making it up or she heard it today but either way it was cute!

She did not nap today though, which was frustrating. It almost seemed like she was energized by her fun morning, whereas I was suffering from a horrendous headache and needed to lay down for a bit. I was laying in the next room listening to her talk the entire nap time. It went something like this:

"Mommy! Mama, turn light on. Mama, where's Daddy? Daddy's downstairs. Waaaaaaah! Daddy, Missy cryin'. Daddy, downstairs. Mama, go check Daddy. Mama! Mamaaaaaa! Mama, check Daddy downstairs. (thump, bang.) Waaaaa! Missy hurt. Missy need bandaid. Missy need Dora bandaid. Mama, need Dora Bandaid!!!! All better now, Mama? All better? It's all better, Mama. Waaa-aaa! Missy wake up!"

And on and on, for 2 hours. I was even more exhausted by the time I got her up! Needless to say, she went to bed early tonight.

We had our neighbors over for dinner tonight, which was nice. We've been trying to break down our isolation walls and reach out to people and Ben just threw out a dinner invitation to our neighbors, a couple with a new baby, over the weekend.

I was really nervous because we don't know them really well and I didn't feel well all day but prayer works, let me tell you because my headache almost completely disappeared while they were hear and we had relaxed easy conversation and built the start of a great relationship!

Great start to the weekend! Hope yours is, too!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Happy Z Day!

6 years ago, at 2:11pm, a screaming, dark-haired baby boy entered the world and changed our lives forever! He's our spunky fighter, our giggly boy who loves and hates to be tickled, our screamer, our dreamer, our creative, lego-building, future inventor!


He was surprised this morning with chocolate-chip pancakes, which I was sure would please him:) It did! We've never had a kiddo who got to celebrate a birthday during school before. They sure know how to make a kindergartner feel special! He got to wear a special birthday crown for the day (which you'll see below), he was given a sticker, a sparkly birthday pencil and he got to pick out a new book to keep!


I volunteer at his school on Wednesdays in the LRC (library) reshelving books and helping a class with check-out. I got to see him in the hallwall on my way in and I was there when they announced his birthday on the loudspeaker! It was fun:)


When he came home, he got to open presents! Well, all 2 of them:) We got him a kid camera, which is just crazy about! He is always begging me to buy him disposable cameras and wishing he had one and now he does! It's only a 2.3 megapixel but we can put the pics on our computer like our camera. We found him taking pictures of us, his Leapster Explorer game, his soup, his towel and more:)


Cheese!!

When we got home from school, a package from Grandma was waiting at the front door! He was awfully excited to see that! Here he is with his new lego set all put together. He loves his legos!

It's funny, I usually try to make them a special birthday dinner on their birthdays but he was at school when I did my menu planning and grocery shopping last week so I didn't get to ask him what he wanted. I felt a little guilty about it but went ahead and threw a soup in the crockpot today; Ham and Lentil Soup and wouldn't you know, he came to the table at dinner, peeked in his bowl and exclaimed, "My favorite soup!!!"

Haha! It worked out well:)


I just love this pic! First of all, his mismatching jammies, which is very normal for him:) But second of all, this is him listening to Mugga and Papa sing him Happy Birthday over the phone:) He looks so sweet and happy!

This morning at breakfast he said, "I'm a little sad about not being 5 anymore." I turned around from flipping pancakes and said, "Really? Well, 5 is a pretty fun age but I know that being 6 will be pretty fun, too!"

He thought for a moment and then said, "Yeah, and I will learn how to run faster this year!" Haha.

I pray this is a wonderful, amazing, happy and healthy year for my big 6 year old boy! I want to savor his little boy-ness, celebrate his growing big boy-ness and show him how much I adore him and how much God loves him each and every day.

I love you, Zakkai Nathaniel!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Budget Appeal

Budget.

It's a name, a word, an idea that can strike a chord of fear, stress, anxiety, and even excitement in our hearts. Probably fear the most!

It's something most people probably have and/or need. For us, it is a need. When you are a family of 5, living in an expensive city, have children with rapidly growing appetites and bodies and do not have a lot of money to work with, you must have a budget.

I don't remember having a budget when we first got married. Did we even need a budget? We were living on love! The first time that I really remember us sitting down to figure out a budget was after we'd been in Chicago for a year. We had a general, wimpy budget. A little food, a lot of rent (which, unfortunately double the minute we made our move from Indiana to Illinois and has continued to increase since), some clothes for our cute new baby, we were set, right?!

Wrong. Suddenly a year later, it came time to plan out our finances, as we have done every August/September since we've been here, being on the academic calendar. And we realized, all those little extra trips for the "forgotten" dinner ingredients down the street at the ridiculously-over-priced grocery store? Killed what little budget we had.

Oh.....a budget! You mean, we have to actually restrict our store trips and have a limit on how much we spend? Yikes! So we did the nasty, the ugly, the horrible job of calculating what we were spending on average and after we got over our spasms, chest pains and finger-pointing, we settled on a budget.

You know a stinky thing about budgets? They don't stay the same because prices continue to increase! Very annoying.

So our budget has been tweaked and twanged, cursed over, dusted off and recalculated every single August/September. Gradually, as the University sucked my husband in and claimed him as its own, Headmaster Heidi took over budget duties. And one baby became two. Rent went up a certain percentage every year. People needed clothes. We moved. A few times. Had the third bambino. Continued to feed these bottomless pits, we call children. Had to buy a bigger car. And pay for the gas that is so overpriced here. And so on and so on.

And the guilt of my failure at not being able to have a perfect budget and remake my children's clothes out of rugs and drapes, eat beans 65 times a week and make my own shampoo like all the other perfect bloggy moms out there, really began to weigh on me. I always kept thinking "this month will be the month I stay on track and do a better job." And then, oh, crap, milk rose another $.20 a gallon, Samuel grew out of his underwear and the car's making a funny noise.

Budget? What budget? And on and on. Recently, as God has been breathing new life into our family and home and revealing areas of neglect, we have been (as you can probably tell) revamping many things here at home to make things run more smoothly and efficiently. Today was budget day. It wasn't planned. It started suddenly with tears (on my part, of course) and frustration but it ended on a really good note.

You know how sometimes, even though you might have a semblance of a budget, money just seems to fall into a black hole? Kind of like socks after laundry day? Well, we fixed some of those holes today. We decided to apply our new cleaning rule to our budget, a home for everything! A home for every dollar. Our miscellaneous fund, which includes Ben's monthly nasal spray (a lifetime expense), laundry money and clothing among other things, isn't very large but is constantly blown to pieces. We added some specific categories, moved some things around and most of all....we got on the same page (imagine that!!) and for the first time in awhile, I am feeling real hope that next month really will be a good month.

 One of our new favorite verses is in Jeremiah 17. It says, "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

We've been like thirsty plants for so long but now we are being replanted and soaking Him up like a tree by the stream! Allowing Him to shed light on dirty, dusty areas so we can clean them up and honor Him better. It's painful and it hurts kind of like ripping off a scab but underneath, it feels really good.

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Oh, and we were able to cut our internet bill down by $35 a month!! Our internet provider didn't quite tell us we had some other options until they were forced to send out a price change sheet of all their services recently. Despite me asking them at least 3 times in the last 6 months if we had other choices or options to lower our bill, no one ever told me that we could downgrade to a lower plan! Frustrating to say the least, but at least now we can save a little $ in that area. It never hurts to ask! Again and again and again....:)

We got caught up on some other things today like sending out invitations for Z's bday party next weekend! I was a bad mommy and procrastinated on the planning and details and we had to postpone til next weekend instead of this weekend. I feel really bad but he's been really gracious, as children always are, and hopefully it will be special for him.

I asked him if he could turn 5 again and he said, "No way!! But...I might stay 6, if you want me to...." Such a sweetheart! Pics of the birthday boy tomorrow!!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Dungeon and The Tyrant

 We had a nice, quiet day at home today with the boys being off for President's Day. I totally forgot they'd be home and as I was directing them to prepare their book bags for school on Sunday night, they were shouting, "Mommy!! We don't have school!!" lucky for them:)

It was a quiet morning and then we spent the whole afternoon organizing the basement and most especially, Ben's office area, which we have nicknamed, "The Dungeon." Poor guy hates to work in a cold basement with no windows but it's all we can do for now!

The boys actually spent most of the afternoon playing outside with friends and came to check in every so often. When Zakkai heard me using the paper shredder, he was downstairs so fast. He loves stuff like that! He seriously spent at least an hour shredding paper with me:)

The good news is, B came up with a large stack of books to return to the university library, which means he might have out less than 150 now! A miracle! He used to have over 300 books out during his crazy, class years. Ugh. He also can see the top of his desk now and the floor is no longer covered in stacks of books and papers. There is hope for him yet!


This cute little thang napped most of the time, which was good because she's a regular tyrant these days!


You would never know it, looking at this darling little face! We are working hard to teach her words and sharing because my, can she scream! Today she heard Zakkai press a music button on her Dora book from the other room and I caught her up in mid-run as she came flying around the corner, yelling, "MY BOOK!!!" She sure knows how to make her presence known:)

Poor thing fell off a couple steps yesterday at church and got a rug burn on her forehead and that "extra eyebrow" you see, which is a bruised imprint from her glasses:( She was the saddest little thing but oh, the attention she gets from people! It really is very hard to resist that cute little face and sweet voice. Samuel put it so perfectly the other day when he said, "But she's just so....huggable and squeezable!"


I just love this picture!! I wish there wasn't a glare on her glasses but other than that, it's just perfect. Missy and her adoring Daddy!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Date Night!

Hello, again! I survived a whole day without the computer! Amazing. Who'dda thunk it could be done:) You know what though? It was really nice to have a break from certain things like Facebook. I don't know about you but I often walk away from facebook with a lingering feeling of anxiety or upset due to thing people post or comment on.

Today, one of the first things I saw when I logged on was a really upsetting article that someone posted. Sometimes it's nice to have a break from people's opinions and ratty news for awhile. Ya know? Anyways...

We kept very busy yesterday. Ben went to a class all morning at our church and the kiddos and I did some cleaning and rearranging! We made a nice little art area down in the basement, which looks pretty nice. I had art supplies in different cabinets and places stored out of the way and it will be so much better all together. I'm sure it will be especially nice when it gets warmer out, as the basement is a nice cool place to be. It's just a little chilly down there right now!

And then, dun dun dun!!! Ben and I got to go on a date!! First time in 11 months, folks. Some of our best friends here came over to babysit, to our extreme thankfulness. We have a gift exchange with all my sisters and hubbies each Christmas and the theme this year was date night! We put Missy down early, left dinner for our friends and the boys, who barely glanced up to say goodbye they were so enthralled with the company, and headed out!

We said a prayer as we drove away because we were hoping that Eliana would stay asleep and that we would have a good time, too. God answered both prayers! We seriously had one of the best dates we've had in a long time. Or one of the only dates, ha:)

Unfortunately, we don't know what nightlife is like anymore and stupidly, didn't realize that every restaurant would be super crowded, being a Saturday night and the Saturday just after Valentine's Day, to boot! Our restaurant was all booked up for reservations by the time we thought of it and it was a 2 hour wait time to walk in!

We decided to put our name in anyway and go spend our Barnes and Noble gift card. Talk about leisure! Can I tell you the last time we were able to linger in a bookstore, browsing and even sitting to read and talk for a bit?? Never. It was so fun!

We finally went back to the restaurant to get our pager and had to wait another 35 minutes but boy, was it worth the wait! I'm not sure if they have restaurants in other states but if you have a Maggiano's near you, go for it! Our server was SO nice, the food was absolutely amazing and the company was not too shabby either;)

Hopefully that date will tide us over for awhile til we can have another one! Maybe if we're lucky, we'll get to go out and celebrate the big 10 next month! woohoo.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Snips

A few snippits of our day:

*I was Mystery Reader for Zakkai's class this afternoon. Oh, if only you could have seen his face light up! It feels so good to have the power to make your child feel special and loved! He got to come sit on a special chair next to me and he was beaming the whole time:)

*It was actually sunny today! I thought I'd document it for proof that the sun does actually shine....:)

*Our bread machine, after 10 years of faithful service, is going to be laid to rest. The stinky part? The machine itself is working pretty well. It's the bread pan that is shot and there are NO replacement parts that are sold or fit it! I am SO sad because I have adored this bread machine. It has made countless loaves of delicious homemade breads and endless batches of pizza dough. Wiping a tear....

*We hauled up the train/lego table and legos to the boys' room this afternoon and set up rules so it won't become a declared disaster zone like it has been in the basement! I think they will really enjoy having a nice space to play legos in their room. The empty space in the basement is going to become an art area and I will be happy to share pictures once I fix that up!

*Eliana and I trekked over to Goodwill this morning to drop off some things we were able to weed out in the room transitions and to look for some lamps, as we have some dark zones in our house. I got 2 lamps (shades and bases) for a total of $8! Eliana is SO excited to have light in her room:) I also picked up the first 4 books in the Mitford series for only $3.50 total. I always think of my family when I see those books, knowing how much some of them love that series!

*Ben and I gave up tv for the first week of Lent. It didn't seem like a big deal, as we are not big tv watchers. But sometimes you do something more than you think you do or at least take for granted its availability and when it's not available....We usually watch a movie Friday nights, let the kiddos watch a cartoon a couple times a week and maybe a movie on Saturdays and I like to turn on a show while I fold laundry. Not this week! I folded in silence tonight and did some praying instead. Maybe I have been filling silence with noise and time with mindless activities when God could have used that time to speak to me? Just a thought....

*I am doing much better with computer time since I wrote my post. A half an hour a day and being much more intentional about being quick and conscientious of time. I think Saturdays will be my off-limits day, which I think will be harder than I thought. No email, no quick WWF game, no blog......just time focusing on my family. Probably a good thing....

See you Sunday!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Birthday Tribute and a First.

 Today is my dearest husband's birthday. A very special day to be born, I think! His mama planned that well;) And as a side fact, did you know that he also shares his birthday with his grandma? He's a Birthentine Baby! haha.

Here is my beloved:



I am so thankful for this man, who is so willing to humble himself before God and get himself on the right track so he can lead his family. And what an amazing job he is doing! I pray this next year is just filled with God's grace, His blessing and His abundant love on my husband. Happy Birthday, Ben!

And do you want some proof that I love my husband? This is real proof people. A first. Something unheard of. A miracle, if you will.

If you know me well or have spent enough time around me, you will learn one very unfortunate fact about me. Well, unfortunate to others but not to me, I'm sorry....or not sorry to say:)

I do not, in any sense of the word, like lasagna. I never have and I am pretty darn certain I never will.

But......


Even after swearing that I would never, ever make it, I thought to myself, what a better way to show my husband that I love and adore him than by making him one of his favorite (and my least favorite) foods!

There you have it, folks. My very first lasagna. And it was a hit. Zakkai declared it his new favorite food, OVER our homemade pizza, which is pretty amazing! People often ask me, upon hearing the atrocious news, (which I never tell anyone, by the way! Some other people always blurt it out) what it is that I don't like about it. I can now officially tell you. I made myself a little square in my pan that had no ricotta cheese on it (which I already knew I didn't like) and even after nibbling on that, I can tell you that I don't like the cheese or the noodles in lasagna. The sauce was great but that was it. The end.

Let me close with a nice humbling story for you, as well as a public apology. Once, a few, long years ago, we were enjoying the company of our new housegroup (small group) who met in our home. We were chatting about innocent things and somehow, someway the subject of lasagna came up. Well, now, I had to open my big, fat mouth and go on and on (and ON) about how much I loathed lasagna (which I have never done again. I learned my lesson!).

Only, I didn't know something really important. That a very sweet girl, who was sitting across from me, had, only a year before, brought our family a delicious (so raved my husband) pan of lasagna upon the birth of our second son. She didn't know our family but out of the loveliness of her heart, she baked up a wonderful meal and served us. Ben went down to collect it from her so I never got to see her or thank her in person.

Until that fateful night when I stuck my foot in my mouth and choked myself on it. I stuttered through an apology and prayed for the floor of my living room to open up and suck me in. But it didn't, unfortunately.

But this wonderful person was SO kind and forgiving and continued to be my friend even after that awful blooper!

I discovered for myself tonight, what very hard work lasagna is! Hours of work, seriously to make the sauce and cook the noodles and layer and bake, etc. And while I worked for 5 hours straight on our dinner and dessert, I couldn't help but think back to that night, where I hopefully learned my lesson.

And so, I just want to say to my sweet friend who I know will read this (and you are probably laughing right now because you know it's you!) that I am VERY sorry all over again for my ungracious comment and I really had no idea how much work you put into making that meal for us. I can honestly say that Ben and Samuel adored it because it was a rarity in their lives. And I am so thankful that you blessed a family you didn't even know with your delicious food and gentle spirit!

And now, let us have a moment of silence for lasagna and those who don't like it. Amen.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lent

 Okay, it's time for me to be vulnerable here. Feel free to skip if that makes you uncomfortable but for me, sharing is a way to be real, to be honest and have a little more accountability in who I want to become.

I've never celebrated or participated in Lent. Ever. I didn't grow up with it being a part of my church and never really understood what it was about. In my adult years, the extent of my Lent-knowledge has been pretty much "you give up something for awhile."

But the last couple of years I've been intrigued by the idea but not quite brave enough to attempt it. I should also add that I mean no offense to anyone by anything that I say here tonight!

I did some reading tonight about the history of Lent, why people practice it and how. I may not understand or agree with all of the reasoning or practices but I find it such a powerful thought and practice to give up something that impedes you from growing closer to God or walking along your Christian journey and spending this period of time reflecting on Him and what He has done for us.

Okay, so I'll be really honest and vulnerable here. I don't want to be. I can't stand to have people think badly of me. I always feel like I need to clarify things just so people don't get the wrong idea about me. But really, I want to be real. I don't want to hide behind a fake perfect blog world. Sometimes (or a lot until our recent changes) our house is a mess. Sometimes I am not a good mom. Sometimes I'm grumpy. Sometimes I don't do the things I know I should do. Dang it, I sin and I'm terribly imperfect and human!

We've decided to practice Lent or at least our own version of it this year. To give up or restrict some things that we feel like God is asking us to and spending the time getting to know Him better. This year, we are getting our family and our own hearts back on track with serving and following God wholeheartedly. It's been a rough journey and the last couple of years can be described with a few words. Isolation, distance, questioning, desert.

God breathed new life into our home on New Year's Day. It's personal and deep and a long tale for another day far away. But we are changed. And we are changing. From the inside out and sometimes the outside in.

One thing I have noticed that has crept into my life and overtaken it like overgrown ivy with the introduction and obsession our culture has with technology, is the internet and my time on my computer.

I have felt God prompting me for awhile to cut down on my usage, to set it aside and make better use of my time. I find that I can easily waste hours surfing the net for silly things, reading blogs, playing games with friends/family, etc. I even spend a lot of time blogging and/or worrying about what I write and if anyone reads it or cares. I am not the kind of mom I want to be when I spend a lot of time on the computer. I get snappier, don't always respond to my kids gently, don't spend as much time with them, etc.

In the evenings, there are SO many other things I could be doing with my time but I sit down for "a few minutes" to check email, facebook and blog and before I know it 2 hours have passed and I'm up too late and don't have time to do anything else. And if I'm up to late, I don't wake up early enough to spend any quiet time with God before my hectic day begins. Something I really need to do and want to make a habit of.

There you have it. Part of me wants to erase the last few paragraphs. I could make a few sentences sound rosier and make it sound "not quite so bad." But the truth is, it is bad. It's a bad thing for me to spend time, time I could be spending honoring God, loving my family, accomplishing things, on the computer that sucks me in like a vacuum.

I want to obey the oh-so gentle promptings of my loving God. I want to use this season to draw closer to Him and draw away from the things of this world. I want to be changed from the inside out and the outside in.

So, by writing these words that I cannot take back and yet desperately want to, I am making myself vulnerable (which is a really good thing to do sometimes!) and creating some accountability for myself.

I am going to be restricting my computer time a lot in the next month or so. I am going to choose one day a week to completely stay away from it, it will now be residing up in my bedroom instead of downstairs where it is so easily accessible (isn't that the way we like it these days?), and my times on the internet will be short and sweet. I guess Lenters take Sundays off so maybe I will be more relaxed that day but I don't know yet.

I just feel that this is something I really need to do to change my focus, my priorities, my time to honor my Lord.

Thanks for "reading," if you did and thanks for any and all encouragement and prayers as I hopefully grow during this time. Change is hard, darn it! I'd also love to hear if anyone else celebrates Lent and what they have given up in the past or are giving up?
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And to leave you with a smile, one of Missy's new favorite toys...............




Can you guess who is in the box with her?




You guessed it! Baby Anna is tucked safely down in the box:) The box is usually her bed and gets dragged around the house and stuffed with my couch pillows and various blankets. It also makes a really fun play place for a 2 year old!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Z-Man and One year!



Mr Zakkai, Z-man, Zakkaious, Zapatch and so on, has earned his first prize from his chart! He is halfway through and doing a great job! He was thrilled to earn a new game for his Leapfrog Explorer that he got for Christmas. Yea Zakkai!!


And we were reminiscing on Sunday because it was the one year anniversary of my foot surgery. Wow, that was quite a hectic time! I know my mom and Ben will never forget that time with Eliana being so very sick and needing her own trip to the ER and me down and out for far longer than any of us hoped for!

***Bypass the next picture and scroll down fast if you're squeamish!!!!














There was my poor swollen foot in all it's glory after dropping the darn rotory cutter on it. Let me tell you that I highly would NOT recommend doing that!
 
In the past couple of months, I have finally been able to Zumba mostly pain-free, which is nice! I only notice issues if I wear the wrong shoes for too long or am really active. It will ache sometimes or randomly burn along the scarline, which is weird. And I cannot stand having anyone step on my foot (which happens frequently with children around!) or put pressure on the scar. Other than those random things, I am so thankful to walk and I hope I never take it granted again!
 
They say that you're as healed as you'll ever be after one year and I am happy to have reached that point! It seemed SO far away last February. I think it will take a long time to forget the pain of foot surgery/injuries!
 
It's also almost one year since Eliana woke up with her eye issues. It's crazy to think about how much has changed in a year.
Can't wait to find out where we are and what's happened next year!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Clean Sweep Part 2!

 We have been busy bees over here the past few days! It's been really refreshing to be active and busy and accomplishing things with new energy. Before I reveal our hard work, I need to share pictures, of course, of 3 of the cutest kids ever! No bias here.



There has been no let-up in the adoration of Baby Anna:) Eliana insists that Baby Anna wants to eat with her so they share almost every meal in the highchair. It's a tight squeeze but apparently worth the spacial sacrifice! Baby Anna finally ran out of batteries today for the first time and when I opened up her head (yes, I know that sounds creepy and it was a little..), I discovered that the reason the batteries had endured constant daily use for 2 months was because they were not ordinary batteries. No, it costed $10 to buy replacements! Ouch. I found some cheaper back-ups on Amazon with a lot more for the price so I think I'll be getting those soon.

Yea for Missy! She has FINALLY adjusted to no paci and is back to sleeping like a champ, although I probably shouldn't say that out loud or she'll wake up! She's been a napping stinker for 3 weeks now and even spent over 2 hours crying in the middle of one night last week. We got firm with letting her cry 20 minutes, going in and tucking her in, giving her a kiss and walking right out and repeating. We were getting pretty desperate by the end of last week. She was moodier, tired and driving us crazy!

But finally we started to see improvements and now she is back to her great sleeping. yea!

The boys are so thrilled with all of our new clean space, thanks to our new cleaning routines, that they spent the longest time horsing around before dinner tonight. Literally.


See? You should have heard the giggling and silliness coming from these two! It was really fun to see that enjoying each other (and our clean floor:)

And last but not least, I give to you a video of 2 days of very hard work! Ben and I are genius when we put our heads together to solve a problem, if I don't say so myself:)

video
 
 
video

Ben had no idea I was taking a video and gave me the funniest look at the end;) We all LOVE our new spaces and are all excited to keep them organized and clean!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Clean Sweep!

It was a nice Saturday! I went to a baby shower for a good friend this afternoon. I was up trying to finish sewing my presents at 7:30 this morning but couldn't finish in time, darn it. My neck and back have been so bad in the past 2 weeks that hunching over to cut fabric and sitting in front of a sewing machine was just not happening!

Thankfully, the pain has decreased a lot in the past 3 1/2 days and I am really hoping that it will leave for good this week. Please, Lord!

I got to carpool to the shower with a couple of friends, one of whom I haven't seen in 2 1/2 years. It was so fun to spend the long car ride catching up! After a couple hours of munching, talking and watching our friend open lots of adorable presents, we headed home.

And I walked in to a spic and span house! Which, unfortunately is a rarity these days. Sigh. Let me explain how this all started. I, like many people I've discovered, feel really overwhelmed and stressed when I am surrounded by a messy house. I have a lot of systems in place to create routine and organization around here (you know how I love organizing!), like baskets, hooks,etc. but with me being the only one who has attempted to keep these systems working....it wasn't working. I started feeling really defeated by the constant multiplying messes 5 seconds after I cleaned them that I started giving up cleaning them. Vicious cycle!

On Friday I was excited to attend my MOPS meeting (Mothers of Preschoolers) because they were bringing in speakers who were talking about none other than...organization and decluttering!

I learned a few good things at the meeting and when I came home, had a heart to heart with my hubby, sharing my feelings of stress and defeat. My dearest was SO helpful in brainstorming with me ways to help reduce the toy clutter (because we aren't lucky enough to have a playroom) and the overflow of papers, 2 of my biggest trouble zones. We get, on average, a minimum of 50 school papers weekly sent home with the boys. Add bills and normal household papers on top of that and we've been drowning in paper!

We've implemented some new paper filing systems, which I'll be happy to share later and some other new cleaning rules. For example, the boys each have a colored fabric bin (same one I use for traveling kits, etc) that they put their toys and belongings in that have been scattered around. Now, before dinner each night, they will go around the downstairs, collect their belongings and take them up to their bedroom and put them away.

And after dinner, they will get their schoolbags all ready for the next day, hopefully adding a few extra minutes to our morning so we won't have to rush so much.

It's been hard to reinforce a lot of cleaning rules without anyone else on board but let me tell you, once Ben jumps on board, he's behind you 110% He had these boys jumpin' and hoppin' today and the result was a clean kitchen (woohoo!), a cleared off table (rare), toys put in their homes and a much more organized downstairs! Gotta start somewhere and having our most lived in space cleaned up was a great start.

We are making sure everything has a "home" to decrease dumping spots. So we are telling the boys to put things in their homes and if it doesn't have a home, we are creating one!

We're both really excited to see how these changes help our home run more smoothly (and decrease my stress~yea). We have some other changes we're planning to make, too, which will be fun to share with pictures when we're done.

It's amazing how something like this energizes me and makes me feel more hopeful and ready to tackle projects that have been layed by the wayside for far too long!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Hootenany!

Tonight Zakkai got to go to a school dance called a Hootenany! The hoot comes because they are the Barnsdale Owls. So these cute little kindergartners were instructed to dress in cowboy gear and come ready to dance!

Here's my little cowboy:


 
He looked so cute:) We don't have cowboy boots so we made do with snow boots instead! Thrifty, we are.
 
So, Z was SO excited to go and has asked every day this week if he would be allowed to go and do you know what he did when we got there?
 
Just stood in the doorway like a little statue. I was going to drop him off and he was going to come home with a friend but I couldn't leave when I saw how nervous he was:( He decorated a bandana, got a tattoo and had a little snack and received several hellos from classmates but that was about it. He never ventured beyond a foot or two inside the gym doors. He finally decided to come home with me after about 40 minutes.
 
I'm glad he tried, at least! He said there were too many kids and it was overwhelming for him. Reminds me of a certain brother of his!
 
He still looked pretty darn cute in his button down shirt:)
 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

100 days.


Zakkai is happy to share with you that he is 100 days smarter because he has been in kindergarten for 100 days now! Last Friday was the 100th day of school and they celebrated with some different activities like decorating these really cool glasses:)



Samuel refused to try on the glasses, even with Zakkai's most insistent pleas. But he was kind enough to smile for me:) He looks so old in this picture, wow!

The boys do journaling at school and different writing activities to improve handwriting skills and writing skills. Here is a recent sample of Zakkai's that makes me smile:

"Write About Your Favorite Breakfast Food. Why Is That Your Favorite?"

My favorite breakfast food is pancaks. They are serupy wen they have serup on them and they are delishes.

He's such a funny boy! He was also singing a really funny song tonight, 3 seconds before he fell asleep in front of our eyes, that goes to the tune of "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain."

"There's a continent that is very, very cold
I don't think you'll want to go there when you're old.
There's a continent that's cold
There's a continent that's cold
There's a continent that's very, very cold!"

Haha.
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Samuel recently declared that he would like to be an inventor when he grows up! Some of the first things he "might" like to invent? Skittles Ice Cream and Peanut Milk.

Mmmm....:)

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Tonight I made a homemade Tomato Bisque Soup. I am not at all a fan of tomato soup, call me crazy, however this was very flavorful and much, much better than nasty Campbell's and got 5 stars at least from my tomato-soup lovin' family!! Samuel has asked me to serve this every night and since I value his tried and true (and picky) opinion, I thought I'd share!

Creamy Tomato Bisque Soup

 2 TB olive oil
1 stalk celery, diced
1 red pepper, diced (I used orange)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 1/2 lb. grape tomatoes OR 2 lg tomatoes, peeled (I used 2 lg tomatoes + 1 can diced tomatoes, drained)
1/2 t. salt
2 1/2 c. chicken stock or broth, reduced sodium.
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
1/3 c. fresh basil, diced (I didn't have basil so I used some parsley and italian seasoning!)
1 c.half and half, cream or whole milk (I used fat-free half and half)
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese


Preparation:
1) Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add and saute celery, red pepper and garlic for 2 minutes. Add zucchini and tomatoes and 1/2 tsp salt and cook 5 minutes.

2) Pour in chicken broth. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes. If using grape tomatoes, they will start to pop. Press some tomato pieces against the side of pot to check for tenderness.

3) Remove soup from heat. Add sugar, salt, pepper and basil and/or seasoning. Cool 10 minutes.

4) Process soup in small batches in food processor or blender until desired consistency. (Do use small batches, I didn't the first blend and the whole thing exploded out of the blender and burned my hand!) Pour soup back into pan and warm back up.

5) Add half and half and Parmesan cheese and cook until heated through but not boiling. Season with additional salt and pepper, if you want and enjoy! I served it with garlic toast and it was a great combo!

Will be adding this to my favorite meals list which will make my crew happy!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Miss Ellie Belly

"Boy, is she TWO!" is a phrase that is becoming quite common around here. You might hear it at least once a day if you are nearby. And I'm sure you would agree with it, too!

Our Sweet Little Miss is just that, sweet, (oh so sweet!) but SO two! She is totally irrational and emotional, charming and adorable and can drive you batty and make you want to eat her all up within 5 minutes of each other.

This was Eliana yesterday after I spent 10 minutes getting the 2 of us bundled up in layers so we could follow my brilliant idea of going to play in the snow. Because playing in the snow = less energy = better nap! (very helpful for someone who has been fighting naps lately...)


So we walked outside and she burst into tears and refused to touch one single beautiful speck of snow. So we went back inside to begin the happy laborious process of undressing. Boy!


Apparently, she'd rather we brought the snow to her, which we've done a few times in the last few days! Ben took this one on Sunday.


Oh and part of the "two year old syndrome" is definite opinions on what one ought to or not to wear. After taking off several layers of clothes from our disappointing 2 minute trip outside yesterday, Eliana refused to put her pants back on, instead sporting a fashionable ensemble of striped tights, crocs, her shirt and a book bag. Oh, she's going places, this one!


She decided to be a big helper yesterday and sweep. She does love to help and she's a pretty good helper, too! In a 2 year old sort of way:) She helps me with laundry and emptying the dishwasher and cleaning up. Well, except when it's her mess, of course!


And, oh, we could talk for hours about Baby Anna! I caught her sitting on the steps before dinner this afternoon, singing "Rock-a-bye Baby" to her baby. She LOVES to sing this song with me and have me cradle her and now she's doing the same to her baby:) Little mommy!

She also loves to sing (and knows most of the words to) "Jesus Loves Me" (which you know), "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," and the "ABCs." She's our little hummingbird!


And this Little Lady gives us the silliest laughs sometimes. She's been doing this really funny "hahaha" laugh lately:) (her face is orange b/c she was eating peppers!)

Eliana has been talking in such clear sentences these past couple of weeks! She's gone from 3-4 word sentences to 5 now! She very clearly and distinctly said to Ben today, "Can I have some carrots, too?"

She can count mostly up to 15 (with a few misses like ten, 'leven, twelve, firteen, forty), she can count to five in Spanish, loves to say things like, "I fink so" and "Yes!" and "What you doin'?", which never fails to make me smile:)

Her new favorite books to look through are these search and find books that someone gave me. She has them memorized because we look at them over and over and over...I'm guessing she'll be a reader like her mommy and daddy because she never says no to a story! You'll often find her sitting by herself on the couch reading, listening to Samuel read to her or snuggled in our laps soaking up a good story:)

Such a joy, this Sweet Girl!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Spanish Zakkai

This seems like the longest weekend ever! At least the boys are having fun outside in the snow. Eliana is having a party in her crib instead of napping. It sounds like she has possibly undressed herself and thrown everything out again. I do not like this phase!

Zakkai and Samuel both have a Spanish class once a week at school and suddenly Z's Spanish seems to be taking off! He comes home asking how we are in Spanish, telling us all the colors and counting. He agreed quite amicably to show off his counting skills on video:)

Enjoy!





video

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Snowy Day

Finally, we have a snowy day! The boys spent the longest time out this morning in the snow, playing with friends. Zakkai reluctantly came in when he could barely feel his fingers anymore. I remember such days when I was young!

Eliana didn't get to go out but the snow came to her. Daddy brought in some snow in a bucket and bowls so she could play with it for awhile. He says he took pictures so I will post them soon!

I am in bed today after a super long night. I hurt my neck somehow last Sunday, a pulled muscle or slept funny or something. I've been trying all week to stretch it, massage it, heat and ice it and everything else you can think of. By yesterday, something felt terribly wrong and I knew I probably would have to go see somebody if it didn't improve. Well, I went into a horrible muscle spasm last night and was beyond miserable and a little scared, too, to be honest because it hurt so bad, along with my head. Ben finally pushed me to go in to see someone and so I am resting today with muscle relaxers, pain killers and ice. The problem is the lack of sleep plus muscle relaxers knock me out! I've taken a few naps today and have only gotten to see my family briefly. Thank goodness for Daddy! Never mind the very messy house and lack of schedule, he's doing a great job!

The boys are currently at the library with Daddy and Eliana is sleeping. Off to enjoy some peace and quiet!

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