Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!!

From the Thomas Crew!

It's been a really low-key day for us today. Ben, who got sick on vacation, was totally exhausted from the past 2 days of driving and not feeling well so he pretty much slept all day. I dressed up the crew and we headed off to church this morning with one of the neighbor kids.

The service was really beautiful and powerful and something I really needed to shake off the heaviness I was feeling and focus on the amazingness of the hope of Jesus! It was really sunny today and warm enough for the boys to go outside without coats and play. They've been playing for hours! We would still trade for the vivid colors of Florida in a heartbeat but for now, we'll take our Midwest sun!

Prepare yourselves, Florida pics begin tomorrow:)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sneak Peak!

Just got home a few hours ago from a tedious journey home! Traffic yesterday and a little girl extremely tired of traveling today. Screaming tantrums in a small space are not fun.

But. We made it and are happy to sleep in our own beds tonight! We were struck by the dullness of the Midwest as we entered Chicago after spending a week in the vivid colorfulness of Florida. We miss the sun! And my grandparents:)

For now, a sneak peak of pictures to come!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Onward we go!

Long time, no see! We've been so busy having fun and trying to soak up the sun through the cool temperatures that I've been too busy to blog!

Plus, I really enjoy having a break from the computer and internet!

We are on our way home. We were very sad to leave this morning, especially as the weather finally started to get warm and perfect just as we were leaving. It was so beautiful this morning!

We sadly traded palm trees and gorgeous 70 degree sunny weather for terrible traffic (adding 2 hours onto our trip today) and cooler temperatures with no promise of coming warmth.

At least we have our memories to fuel us on towards spring! And pictures as soon as we get home. Should be home tomorrow night.

Another 10 hour day ahead of us......

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Here we are!

Florida!! We arrived safely yesterday around lunchtime, after driving through pouring rain for about 3 hours. It was sunny and hot here though!

Today it's overcast with rain but the next few days looks sunny and if not as warm as it usual is this time of year, way better than 30s and snow! Sorry Chicago and Ohio!

I'll take some pictures and post them soon. For now, our white, sun-deprived skin is practically shrieking in delight over being uncovered to receive the sun (when it's out) and the fresh air. Good-bye winter coats!

At least for a week:) Be back soon!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


We moved up our Florida time table a smidge and decided to drive a chunk this afternoon/tonight to spare ourselves a 14 hour trip tomorrow!

So here we are, in Elizabethtown, KY, 6 hrs from home, trying to get the kiddos settled and to bed. It's going so well so far! right...

The good news is, our car got fixed bright and early this morning and everything was covered under extended warranty!! We didn't have to pay a dime and our car is back to normal! So thankful for answered prayers!

Tomorrow we head to GA, where we meet the rest of my family and then Saturday we'll make the last 4 hour leg of the journey and be in sunny and hopefully, WARM Florida!!

For now, I'm signing off and praying that no bedbugs find me......

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


* Tonight at bathtime, Eliana was talking to herself while playing and she said, "Mama is so beautiful." Ben came in and I told him what she said and he asked her, "Are you beautiful, Eliana?" She said, "No! Missy is cute. Mama is beautiful."  Melt.

* We have to get our car in for a repair before leaving in a couple of days. Please pray it is covered under extended warranty and that we can drive safely on such a long trip!!

* Cannot wait to see my family, even if we will be a wee bit crowded for a week:)

* Sun and warmth should go hand in hand.

* Zakkai saved up some allowance money and some bday giftcards and we ordered him a new toy off of amazon to go with a Christmas present we gave him. It's a snap circuit set where he can make different projects (electricity, noises, lights, etc). He and Samuel finished their homework, ignored several knocks on the door from neighborhood friends and spent the rest of the afternoon playing with it!

* Samuel spent some of his allowance money (they each have give, save and spend jars) on a new origami set, which he is anxiously waiting to try out on our long trip. He's really been interested in origami lately!

* My tip for feeling more productive: Make a list of all the things you have to do, as detailed and minute as possible, then cross off each thing as you accomplish it and you'll feel really productive!! Even though I have some of the simplest tasks in my head, it still feels really good to cross them off a list:)

* Headed off to bed early with my slumbering family, as we have lots to do in the next 2 days!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

More Concerts and Trash Picking.

 Man, oh, man, we had such a busy weekend! Parties and dates and all sorts of things going on. It will be a busy week this week with getting ready to leave on our trip (goodbye snow and 30s!) and Ben is working hard on some deadlines for his dissertation. Hopefully we can get everything done so we can relax a bit!

This cute kindergartner had his spring concert tonight. Thankfully, it was barely a half an hour long, as opposed to 1 1/2 hours like Samuel's. The kindergartners looked so cute and little up on the stage!

Since Zakkai's school is made up of all kindergarten (9 classes), they divided the concerts up into different days and had 2 or 3 classes sing at a time. Zakkai was so excited to have us come; he was bouncing off the wall tonight!

Thankfully, I had fresh batteries in my camera this time. Too bad my camera absolutely loathes the lighting of these events and no matter WHAT setting I put it on, it takes blurry pictures! grr.

I did capture a couple short and cute videos, though:)

And, I have inherited a wonderful, rare and slightly embarassing skill from my mom. You can call it a gift, a talent or as Ben likes to say, a curse. Ha!
I totally took something off the side of the road today. I trash picked. People just put their stuff out on the curbs that they don't want and you know what they say, "One man's junk is another man's treasure!"

Look how cute this is! I spotted it as we pulled up for school and knew it belonged with me. Of course, I was really embarassed and told myself if it was there later, maybe I would get it. And look, here it is! It was meant to be:)

How cute is this little table! The sides extend and it has a little drawer and everything. Perfect for my crafting area!

Ben thinks I'm crazy and I cannot confirm or deny that charge.....

Saturday, March 16, 2013

10 years!

 Today, okay I guess yesterday (as of 11 minutes ago), my wonderful husband and I celebrated TEN years together as a married couple! Wow. Where in the world did 10 years go??

As Ben said, some went really fast and some were a little slow. Some were filled with challenge, some with lots of joy. Some with seasons of big change and trusting, some with laughter and ease. All blessed by God. All amazing!

Tonight we were blessed by a few couples from our former housegroup with a wonderful gift! A date! They sent us for dinner and a theater show nearby and it was SO amazing!

We saw "Sunset Blvd" which is definitely a tragedy but it was so well done. The singing, the acting, the sets, everything! We've never gotten to do anything like this before and we have no idea how to thank our wonderful friends for such a thoughtful, wonderful, unexpected gift!

So very thankful for friends, for life, for a faithful God and for this wonderful man I get to spend my life with!

Happy 10th Anniversary, Ben!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spring Concert and PB&J!

 Tonight Samuel had his spring concert! He was very excited to have our whole family come watch him, as last year I was couch bound recovering from my surgery. Ben took Eliana home after Samuel's grade sang but she just loved it! She was clapping with everyone and saying, "There's Samuel! Samuel's singin'!"

I tried every blasted setting on my camera to get a good picture of Samuel, to no avail:( This was the best I could do. He's in the blue/white striped shirt standing next to the kid in black. They were supposed to wear "spring colors." haha.

And battery died before he started singing! Boo hiss. Unfortunately, this isn't the first time that's happened to me. It also happened during Samuel's kindergarten graduation. so sad. Anyways, the 2nd graders sang 3 songs from "The Little Mermaid." They had movie themes: "Cinderella" for 1st graders and "The Jungle Book" for the 3rd graders.

Samuel was so proud and he did such a good job!

Yesterday, Eliana was sitting across from me eating one of her new favorite foods: PB&J. She loves to be liberated from her highchair to sit in a big chair like a big girl. And...she looked so stinkin' cute as usual that I had to break out the camera:)

Really, can you resist this cute face?

Today I was cleaning out the refrigerator, trying to locate the source of the unpleasant smell, and she spotted the peanut butter and jelly on the table. She immediately said, "Missy have peanut butter and jewy, Mama?"

Gosh, I love this little person!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Easter Bunny Arrives!

We love getting packages in the mail! Really, who doesn't? Today we got a total of 4 packages. Wow, what a day:) One was an origami kit that Samuel paid for with his own money and is so excited to bring for the long (very long) car trip to FL! The smallest pkg was the Dramamine that the above mentioned child has to have for every car trip to avoid getting very sick and possibly throwing up all over the car.

We learned that the hard way.

But the very best package of the day was timed just right! It arrived after the kiddos were home from school and homework was done. You should've heard the gasps and yells of delight when they realized that Grandma had sent them an Easter box!!

Now I thought about forcing them to wait and driving them up the wall but I was under strict orders from Grandma to put these kiddos out of their misery! I wouldn't have made them wait too long:) See that big box behind them?!

Grandma found some cute Bunny ears for each of them. They thought those were pretty cute and wore them around the house til bedtime. I looked at this picture and decided to torture them some more since Zakkai looks angry and Samuel looks a bit cheesy. Such a nice mama!

Two out of three ain't bad! The table was a wreck of tissue paper and wrappers and special surprises. The boys said to tell Grandma "THANK YOU!!" They are especially excited about using their new beach towels in FL next week!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


 I really have nothing new to share other than it being a very busy day! So I thought I'd haul out a couple of sweet memories.

See this cute pudgy thing? This was Eliana the last time we went to Florida! A little baby butterball. No, I am not crying! There's some dust in my eye....

And a year ago, at the end of this month, our sweet girl got her glasses! Wow, has she changed. At night, we pray with her before she goes to sleep and we have gotten in a habit with her of thanking Jesus for everything we can think of. (Lesson to be learned??) She often thanks Jesus for her glasses and my glasses, which always sounds so sweet to me. So thankful she can see and that her eye issues were so pronounced that we were able to get help right away so she didn't lose vision in her eye!

Today during "nap time" (i.e. no nap), among her singing and yelling, there was a lull and I heard Eliana softly saying, "Dank you for Daddy, Dank you for Mommy. Dank you for bed. Dank you for elephants....." It went on for several minutes.

As I was searching for this picture and the date that I posted it, I came across one of my favorite posts that I really needed to be reminded of today. Revelation.

I hope that I can learn to pray with a pure heart full of thanksgiving for what God has done, what He is doing and what He will do!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Li'l Blessings.

When I feel sad or discouraged or a little down, I try to focus on the good things, the blessings in my life. Big or small.

These are 3 blessings that always always bring a smile to my face and a thankful prayer to my heart.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Dance Fest

We had a really lazy day here at home, to follow a non-stop day yesterday (at least for me!) I pulled out some CD's I got from the library the other day of one of my very favorite children's songwriters, Jim Gill.

They boys, who were totally convinced they were too old for this music LOVED it! We listened to it while making breakfast and cleaning and jammed in the car on the way to the store. They were begging to have me play it during dinner but we had to put our foot down somewhere!

Enjoy the Thomas Trio...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The USA and Baking Soda.

Today was such a beautiful day! I very much appreciate the sun after days of heavy, snowy skies and it is that much brighter when it reflects off of the white snow! The boys are sad to see the snow melting already but I know that everyone is itching to feel the warm rays of spring on their faces.

Only 2 more weeks before we get to enjoy the warm, beautiful Florida sun! I have been busy getting things ready. I went through the boys' summer clothes to see what they have/need since we will have to pull some out for our trip. I was really surprised to see how little they had! I can pass down a lot of things from Samuel to Zakkai, which leaves Samuel barren in the clothes department. Boy, these kiddos grow! Maybe I'll have to stop feeding them so well:)

Eliana LOVES to do puzzles and everytime I leave her in her class at church or at MOPS, they usually tell me that she's been busy doing puzzles or coloring. One of her newest favorite puzzles isn't an easy 12 piece puzzle for a 2 year old! It's a puzzle of the United States!

I was straightening some things in our room the other morning and I heard her pull out the puzzle in the boys' room. I came in a few minutes later, when she called me for help, and this is what I found! I was so amazed that she could do all of this by herself!

And then, Ben just popped my bubble and told me he's the one who helped her with this. Stinker! She does know where several of them go and I still think she's a smart cookie even if she didn't do this by herself:)


And in a totally random note, I got this book back on our date a few weeks ago at B&N all about cleaning with baking soda, lemons, vinegar and salt. It has tons of recipes for laundry, stains, cleaning kitchens and bathrooms, killing bugs and more!

Ben's been really intrigued by the idea of cleaning with more natural ingredients instead of spending lots of money on harsh chemicals. We've tested out a few things in the past week and let me tell you it works!!

I washed down our dingy, hand-printed walls last weekend with a vinegar mixture. No paint removal, no streaks and it looks much brighter and cleaner! Today Ben offered to scrub the bathtub with one of the recipes. We've had a really hard time getting the tough scum off the bathtub and we've tried many things. It seemed stuck there forever!

But Ben poured some baking soda all around the bathtub and used 1/2 a cut lemon to scrub. He said it took a few minutes and all of the sudden the layer of yuck came off and he could feel the tub getting smooth again. Let me tell you it WORKS! Our bathtub is sparkling clean and looks brand new! I absolutely recommend this.

He also scrubbed the tiles with another mixture and got any mildewy stuff off and as I write is trying a natural drain de-clogger with baking soda, vinegar and boiling water. I'll let you know if it works!

We must be very simple people for this kind of stuff to thrill us:) I guess that's a good thing, right?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Little Model.

 Well, the snow finally stopped sometime late into the night. To the boys' disappointment, there was school today:) Apparently, we got the most snow of all the western suburbs ~ 11inches! Too bad it's going to melt soon with the rising temperatures. It sure was lovely to watch as it fell!

I made Eliana a new dress out of Ben's old dress shirt! He had several dress shirts that got retired recently because of stains and whatnot. I saved a few of them, thinking that I could salvage some material from them and I came across a cute tutorial for a shirt dress!

She's wearing jammies underneath so the white shirt isn't part of it. I made the first one with an extra stained shirt and the pattern wasn't quite right so I adjusted it and made it with this blue one. Cute, lightweight and best of!

The model is pretty stinkin' cute too, if I don't say so myself:)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Snow, snow and MORE snow!

 What a fun bit of snow we've been getting! I'm hoping this is winter's last hurrah before spring and if it is, I'm glad it's a good one! It started snowing around 6:30 this morning and 13 1/2 hours is still snowing! We probably have 8-10 inches out there so far.

The boys finished their homework as fast as they good, donned all their wintergear and headed outside to play before dinner. Samuel said, "Whoever created snowpants was really smart!" :)

Right before I took this picture, the boys were army crawling through the snow:)

Our maintenance guy was snowblowing the parking lot when Samuel (you can barely see him by the tall bush on the rt) and Mikey ran in the flying snow's path. They thought it was too fun to be blasted with snow.

There was a lot of running and diving...


And, before we could stop him, a little snow-licking, too. Eliana and I have been couped up all day and we didn't really want to go anywhere anyways:) But maybe being shut-in caused a little extra silliness at dinnertime.
Eliana loves to throw out new phrases she has picked up, even if she doesn't really understand how to use them. One of her favorites is to tell knock-knock jokes. Tonight's joke that she randomly threw out during dinner will be a classic!
Everyone was eating nicely (And thoroughly enjoying~I will definitely share the recipe!) when Eliana said, "Samuel, knock-knock. Who's there! Poo-poo!" And proceeded to cause herself to giggle hysterically for quite a long time.
When that grew a little old, Daddy decided to add in a line, which caused the hilarity to start all over again. If this doesn't make you laugh, it will at least leave you with a big smile on your face!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Where Is Baby Anna?

 First, I'd like to say thanks for all your kind comments about Z's bday party! While I do find party planning a wee bit stressful, I also really enjoy planning something that will be fun and that will make my kiddo feel really special and loved.

I definitely know now that this cannot be a tri-annual event. Seriously, I'd be planning  a party like that every 4 months! We really are thinking every other year for each child, with special family activities on the off years and/or a special time with one friend. We'll see! For now, I am just breathing a sigh of relief that Zakkai is happy, that we kept our promise to him and that he's off to a great start for being 6!


Baby Anna is like our 4th child here. She goes where E goes and where E goes, she goes. She gets strapped into the boys' booster seats in the car sometimes when they are in school per Eliana's request and we also find her in many different places in the house. Here are just a few places we've found her in the past few days....

Taking a nap on the chair. Eliana loves to cover her very carefully with this special blanket! Sometimes, Baby Anna will be snuggled beneath pillows but mostly with this pink blanket.

Sitting on the stairs. I'm not sure whether she was coming or going but this is clearly a good place to rest!

In time-out. Yes, even dolls get time-out, too! Eliana's had maybe a handful of time-outs and last week was one of them when she colored all over the couch with a pen (after being told to bring the pen to me!) Next thing we knew, Baby Anna was in deep doo-doo, too...

But Eliana couldn't leave her there along for long so she came to keep her company:)

And the most recent and now forbidden place where I've found Baby Anna is in the bathroom! Thankfully, it was freshly cleaned on this day so I wasn't too concerned about germs but still, you can never be too careful!

It's like Where's Waldo around here except with a pink baby who loves her pacifier:) Maybe we'll have a new edition of "Where's Baby Anna" coming your way soon:)

For now, this is Baby Anna's mother's mother signing off......Goodnight!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Rev Your Engines!!

 And prepare yourselves for an overload of pictures!! Welcome to Race Car Party.

We got a ton of our decorations at the dollar store! Very cheap:) And we made the rest, like Zakkai's name on the door.

Can't have a racecar party without checkered flags!

All set up and ready for one of our activities: painting with racecars! I put paint down on paper plates and they rolled the cars through the paint and made some really cool pictures!

Activity numero dos was painting these wooden race cars. I thought I was pretty clever for putting the paint in cupcake liners:)

And here's the racing car fueling station! The table cloth is supposed to be a road.

Here's Z's Race Car cake made out of cupcakes! It was fun to make. Lots of little steps but not too hard to put together.

Zakkai chose to eat the cupcake with the driver in it:)

Decorations in the basement!

And this was the remote control obstacle course that Ben and the boys set up. He had to use all these objects to line it so the cars wouldn't get out of control. The blocks on the top made it look a little better!

Ready for racing!

The spoiler on the back of the car kept falling off but thankfully, little boys could care less!!

Here's my happy birthday boy! The boys were such a big help all day, decorating and helping cleaning and setting up. We worked from 8am til the party started at 2:30!

The Goody Bags! I felt a little stressed over this, as it can add up quickly. I didn't want to give them lots of little junk that will end up trashed in a few days. We ended up putting in a new Hot Wheels car, a pencil and their own painted wooden race cars. They seemed happy! Oh, and one little girl came, that Zakkai just loves (and she is pretty sure she'll marry him 5/7 days a week:) and I put a little pad of paper, a couple cute pens and her painted car in hers.

The water bottles! I saw this cute idea to jazz up the water bottles online. I just printed off the paper for free and we cut strips and glued them on. Pretty cute!

The kids came within 5 minutes of each other; all 8 of them + one little brother. They jumped right into the art activities because they wanted to finish so they could go do some racing! They did seem to like the painting with cars. They made some really cool pics!

Here's a few of them painting the cars. Some of them just globbed paint on and Ben had to dry them with a hairdryer before the parents came!

They exited the upstairs en masse and raced down to the basement for the obstacle course. No pun intended:) This was definitely the hit of the party! And it cost $0!

Eliana checked out the action with Daddy.

Some of the boys kept coming back down here to race and didn't want to leave when their parents came!

Happy Boy!

After things were settling down in the painting area, Eliana came over to paint.

One of Samuel's best buds! We let Samuel invite a friend and it worked out great because his little sister is in Z's class and Zakkai really wanted her to come.

Big bro!


She loved painting so much that she threw a big fit when it was time to go eat cake!

Busy boys with noisemakers, party hats and balloons. I tell you, it doesn't cost much to entertain kids!

I found these really cool candles that have different colored flames when you light them. Z loved it!

We only have 4 broken chairs so we decided to spread out the tarp again and let them all eat on that. Easy cleanup!

Since it was an afternoon party (2:30-4pm), we kept it easy and served cupcakes, clementines, pretzels, water and apple juice. They were happy!

E asked for a cupcake from about 10am on...

Opening presents! He got a lot of really neat things, including 2 remote control cars, a race car shirt and some legos!

This was all the boys crowding around when Z opened up a really cool remote control truck that lights up. Definitely a hit:)

Here are our kiddos painted cars and pictures.

Everyone was gone by 4:15, with goodie bags in hand and smiles on their faces! Zakkai could barely tear himself away from his presents to say thank you for coming. Ha. Ben and I high-fived each other and promptly fell over in exhaustion!

Happy Birthday to Zakkai! I think it was a rooooarrring success:)