Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! We have been having the busiest time ever here in Ohio! All of my sisters were in town so it was the first time all of us have been together in SIX years! Most of us got in town on Wednesday so we all got together for dinner and just enjoyed catching up and watching all of our kiddos play together. And of course we had to sit them all down, line up with all of our cameras and snap a million pictures!

This one was the best of the ones I took. I'm still trying to figure out my camera! Plus, how in the world do you get ten children to cooperate perfectly for pictures? You don't! The four littlest ones (all on the couch) were very wiggly!

We are the last to pull out tomorrow morning and will enjoy a quiet evening, rejuvenating ourselves:) We are so thankful for our families, for a special few days for our kiddos, and for the love and encouragement we have received while we've been here!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Face-painting and Pictures!

 We had a busy weekend! On Saturday, we ran a couple errands and then we went to a first birthday party for one of our neighbors. It was at a nearby park district and it was a very cute safari theme! They even hired some face painters and our kiddos were brave enough to get some face painting done; the first time for S and E!

And look who was brave enough to go first?! Eliana decided she wanted a little kitty on her cheek, so she got a white one with a sparkly pink bow! She loved it and happily posed for pictures:)

Samuel went next and continued with his magic theme by getting a rabbit pulled out of a magic hat! The ladies were very talented and did a great job! Samuel loved it so much that he didn't want to wash it off:)

Zakkai took the longest to convince but once he was ready, he went all the way with a full Spiderman mask! It was very cool and he loved it. It scared more than a few of us over the evening when he would come around the corner or out of the bathroom! It lasted til morning, when I started finding face paint smeared everywhere and then I forced him to wash it off:)

Yesterday our friends invited us to go to a nearby conservatory! We had never been before, even though it's fairly close by and free to boot! A gem in the city:) Eliana had a blast exploring! There was a children's garden with a place to dig in dirt and "plant" flowers. She would've stayed all day if we'd let her!

My favorite things to see were the banana trees, pineapples and lime tree! Not something you see everyday in the Midwest....

Samuel got to do a little creating at a kid's station with some sticks and clay. Like Eliana, he would've stayed there all day!

One of the main reasons we went was so that I could try out my new camera and practice. Practice makes perfect, they say! Imagine how silly I felt, then, when I got my camera out, turned on and tried to take pictures...only to find my battery was dead! Our friends, thankfully, have almost the same camera and let me use their battery for a little bit! (All the previous pictures were cell phone pics)

 Eliana refused to pose with her brothers and ran away!

Love these boys!

We finally snatched her up and I was able to get one shot of the three of them before she ran off again:)

Now come all the "boring" nature shots! Although, I think I got some very pretty ones!

Here is one of my favorites! I love the detail and it's nice to see some color now that all the trees are bare and it's looking very "wintery" outside...

This flower almost looks like an ostrich!

Daddy and his girl:)

 Ben wanted me to practice on the water fall so our friend, also a Ben, helped me figure out some fancy things and made the water look different. Very cool!

See the difference?

Pretty greenery!

Baby C was busy checking out things, too, and wishing he could've gotten his hands on a few things!

Such a happy little guy!

The crew:)

I love how Eliana turned around to grin at me! It's nice to catch her in a "real" smile these days:)

This is how Baby C likes to greet the boys each morning! The face grabbing is accompanied by a lot of drooling and pterodactyl-like screeching:) They love it!

Some more beautiful flowers!

One of my favorite things to do is to focus on one object and blur the background a bit. Taking pictures is fun!

Next time I will remember to charge my battery.....:)

*If you ever want to see the pictures magnified, just click on one and you can do a slide show of the whole blog post!

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Not-So-Secret-Keeper

If you are going to tell someone a secret, you should make sure that they are trustworthy! And they probably should be over the age of 3.....

Last week, Eliana and I went to Kohl's and got a couple things for Christmas with my 30% coupon. One thing that we got was a new shaver for Ben. I know, very exciting, right? But the one he has is at least 7 years old and he hasn't had new blades for it in probably 5 years. Blades are just as expensive as a new shaver!

So, Eliana and I picked out a shaver and too late, I thought, "What if she tells Ben about this?" Later that afternoon, she was sitting on my lap and something I said made her remember the shaver we bought and she started to tell Samuel about it. I quickly stopped her by whispering in her ear, "Shhh! It's a secret!"

Samuel picked up on the whispering and said, "What's a secret?!" Eliana put on her sternest, bossiest little face and said, "It's in mommy's ear!" haha:)

Fast forward to a couple days ago and Eliana woke up before Ben left for work. He opened her door to say good morning while he was shaving with his dull razor. Almost as soon as she opened her mouth, my heart sank. I was in our room getting dressed and I heard her say, "Daddy, is that your new shaver?"

I held my breath as he said, thinking she was being silly, "New shaver? No, this is just Daddy's old shaver!" I hoped she would let it go but in true determined toddler fashion, she continued. And I knew the secret was done for.

She said, "Daddy, where's your new shaver?" With her continued questioning, the fact that she was revealing a secret dawned on him. Eliana came out of her room and said, "Mommy, where is Daddy's new shaver? He needs it!"

Cat out. Bag empty. He started laughing when he realized what she gave away and promised to act surprised when he opens his present on Christmas morning.

Moral of the story? Don't tell secrets to three year olds! They are the "Not-so-secret keepers!" She will not be doing any more Christmas shopping with me:)

Who me??

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The New and Improved!

 You are about to see some highly improved pictures from my recent phone pictures of the last 4 months! Our last hand-me-down camera stopped taking good pictures. Every setting I chose produced blurry pictures and for someone who loves pictures like I do, that was seriously frustrating!

So, my dearest love presented me with an early Christmas and birthday (and more) present~a new and highly improved camera! I have been wanting one for SO long and the fun thing is that B is learning to use it with me. Maybe we'll become photographers on the side! Or maybe not....

Anyways, here are my recent pictures that I'm pretty proud of! Not bad for a beginner and they feature three of my favorite subjects!

First off, there is Samuel the magician:) He practically does magic tricks in his sleep these days and is working up the nerve to put on a magic show for family when we're in Ohio next week! He also prayed almost every night for a month for all of his cousins to come and God answered his prayers! He is super excited!

Next up is Miss Cute Thang herself:) I asked her to come lay down and she ran and plopped down on her tummy, sat still with mostly cheesy grins for about 5 pictures and said, "I'm all done, Mama!" and ran off:)

She still adores her new glasses and loves telling everyone she sees about them. Her eye is looking very good these days!

And last but not least, is Mr. Z! Man, oh, man he looks handsome in blue!! It always brings out the blue in his baby blues:)

He's sweet and stinker all wrapped up in one and keeps our life sizzlin'!

So there you have it. Hopefully, my pictures will continue to improve and you will only sometimes be subject to my poor phone pictures:) Hope you're having a great week!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Going Purple!

 Our Little Pink Girl has decided to make some changes! She got to pick something new out that came in this week. Can you guess what it is??

Oh that's right! Miss E is stylin' with some amazing new PURPLE glasses! Her prescription changed slightly and her bifocal needed to be raised up quite a bit, as it was rather useless in her last pair. We had to go to a bigger size so she would have room to see, as well as use her bifocal so she has room to grow:) She loves her new glasses!! She has insisted on wearing purple pretty much every day since so she can coordinate:)

This morning Eliana marched into her Sunday school class and started informing all her teachers that she got some new purple glasses! We thought it might be hard to adjust to seeing her in a new color but it is a soft purple and it brightens up her face. It's very pretty but the main thing is, she's happy and she can SEE!

We did not check our forecast this morning before we headed out to church so the terrible storm that passed through totally caught us by surprise! It was a warm 62 degrees and wet outside but by the time we came out of church, it was really dark in the building. My first clue that it was more than raining outside was when I looked towards the front doors, only to see a big group of people stumble backwards with hair flying every which way!

It seriously looked like their was a hurricane outside. It was crazy! There was an indoor church picnic for families that we were going to but unfortunately, we left our lunch in the car! Ben had to brave the torrential rains and even hail to bring our van closer and our lunch in. He was soaked when he finally made it back inside~poor guy!

We really enjoyed the picnic, all safe and warm inside the church. Each family brought a blanket, a picnic lunch for themselves and a dessert to share with everyone. After everyone ate, we all gathered in a big circle and said a prayer, with anyone who wanted saying outloud what they were thankful for and we sang "Give Thanks." A fun way to end the weekend!

On the way home we spotted a ton of branches littering the roads and yards and some really bad flooding on some streets. We were a little nervous about what we would find in our basement but thankfully, it wasn't too bad. We threw down several towels and mopped it up and had the boys do a quick clean up while we were at it. They make a huge mess with all of their "projects" and crafts they work on downstairs. There were a ton of sopping wet papers all over the floor!

This week I will have a fun new Christmas toy to share that hopefully will improve my blog! Can you guess what it is??

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dora and Minnie!

 Eliana is a huge Dora fan, if you couldn't tell already from her Dora birthday cake and Dora wall decals:) She is now requesting a Dora suitcase for Christmas. Her Dora-adoration has recently ramped up until she eats, breathes and sleeps Dora!

Literally:) I made her a Dora pillow right after her birthday so she gets to sleep on Dora at night. We own one Dora movie (Dora and the Superbabies), which she has watched approximately 342 times and knows by heart. We often get Dora movies from the library for her to watch and this week she has started acting out Dora!

If you aren't on the up and up with the Dora know-how, here's the scoop. (because I'm sure you're dying to know!) First Eliana straps on her Minnie Mouse backpack (close enough to Dora's backpack:), then she claims to have lost something and tells me we need to call for Map..or "nap" as she calls him! Then Map tells us where she needs to go to find her missing item.

For example: Today Eliana claimed to have lost Baby Anna (who was resting comfortably right next to her in her cradle, mind you). She strapped on Backpack, called for Map. Or I should say we both called because I follow her commands! E said Map told her she needed to go through the kitchen, around the exersaucer, around the pack n' play and then she would find the "Lost Baby!"

Off she went following Map's directions and before you know it, Baby Anna was saved! :) Thankfully, Swiper, the sneaky fox, didn't show up to steal Baby Anna this time.  It is very cute. I love that her imagination is really coming out right now!

Her second favorite character is probably Minnie Mouse. She doesn't know a ton about her but has a cute Minnie backpack and winter hat, thanks to her Grandma. A couple weeks ago one of our little neighbors stopped by (with her mom) to pass on her old Minnie dress-up dress to Eliana! She wore it the whole next day, out to stores and all:)

Samuel, who claims NOT to have a crush on his friend Leah, talks about her non-stop. As in, I probably heard her name no fewer than 10 times today. I know he's very excited about going to her birthday party on Saturday but still! It is very interesting to watch this. And a little scary, too!

At dinner tonight, Samuel said, "Mommy, a lot of the kids at school (and this is where I always brace myself!) talk about crushes. What do they mean?" Zakkai jumped right in before I could say a word and said, "It's when you're in love!!"

Oh dear. I explained what a crush was and then told them they were not to have girlfriends for a long time! Zakkai said, "Mommy, in kindergarten, my old lunch teacher told us we couldn't have girlfriends until we were 6! And I'm 6!" Ha! No way, Jose!

This is crazy! I wasn't expecting to talk about crushes with my 6 and 8 year olds. Kids are so advanced these days! Or maybe, I just prefer to let my kids be "kids" a little longer than the rest of the world. Or....maybe I'm just out of touch with thing!

I am getting old after all:) Happy Wednesday!

Monday, November 11, 2013

What's that white stuff?

In the past week and a half the scenery outside has undergone a dramatic change! We went from basking in the amazing reds, oranges and yellows of the trees to quickly crunching through carpets of fallen leaves, to watching the trees slowly strip themselves of their vibrancy and become bare, to this:

Snow! Can you believe it? The ground was very wet from rain so I didn't think any of it would stick but it did! We were trudging home from school through the blustery snow and Samuel said, "I can't believe it's snowing in November! It's only fall!"

Welcome to Chicago, kid. I clearly remember one of our first winters here when S was a baby, it snowed at the beginning of October! It is quite a change this month with the dramatic weather/scenery turns and the darker skies in the evenings. Not sure if I'm ready to be holed up for winter yet!

Samuel is being teased at school at about a girl. He is one of 3 boys that was invited to a girl's birthday party, along with 17 girls! Apparently, Leah only invites the nice boys to her party and Samuel is one of them. He talks about her a lot and they seem to be good buddies but he was frustrated last week because kids keep teasing him and saying he "likes" her. He keeps saying, "Mommy, she's just my friend!"

It's crazy to me that 8 year olds are already talking about crushes! I told him just to simply state that Leah is his friend, no ifs/ands/or/or buts and just change the subject or walk away. Teasing is a part of life, unfortunately, and we just need to teach our kiddos how to handle it!

But crushes??? seriously? Maybe I was behind the times but I wasn't thinking in that direction at all when I was eight. My boy classmates were doing nasty things like picking their noses and eating glue. Or was it paste....

These kids are growing up way too fast! Slow down time, slow down...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thankfulness and Fall!

We've been having a fall-ish weekend over here:) We really enjoy our weekends together, since they are usually the only days we have all together as a family. The kiddos just soak up their time with Daddy, and vice versa.

Friday night, our friends stayed for dinner and a game after coming to pick up Baby C. We haven't had company in awhile and we really treasure time with our friends! Baby C went to sleep in his car seat in our room and Eliana took that as a sure sign that he and his mommy and daddy were spending the night! She said, "Where are Miss Emily and Mr. Ben going to lay down? Where are you going to sleep? Downstairs?" It took some convincing to get her to believe me that we weren't having a giant slumber party:)

Saturday, we went to an annual craft bazaar/school fundraiser event. Many different types of vendors sell their homemade crafts and have little stations set up around the gyms of a nearby school. We saw some really cool things like jewelry, crocheted character hats (Minnie Mouse, Yoda, Puppy, Hello Kitty, etc.), ornaments, quilts, and more. One jewelry vendor saw Eliana crying (naptime + runny nose= slightly grouchy 3 year old) and gave her a free beaded bracelet, which I think she has lost already....It was very sweet!

And we were supposed to go to some friends' for lunch today after church but it got canceled due to sickness in their house. Instead we spent a quiet afternoon; the boys playing outside with friends, me napping on the couch, Ben playing his guitar and Eliana playing with flubber:) We completed our relaxing day with chili, pumpkin pie with an oreo crust and a rousing game of Scrabble with the boys! Zakkai did a pretty awesome job for this only being his second time ever playing. He needed a little help here and there (Zakkai "voguez isn't a word, buddy") but we were impressed at how well he did. He was in tears in the end because he lost and refused to congratulate Daddy on winning. We are working on learning to be a "gracious loser." :)

I have seen people doing their month of thankfulness and I am behind but I will just say that I am really thankful for my family and I treasure our time together:)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Weekend Celebrations!

Do you mind seeing yet another picture of a tree?? I think this is the last one. Maybe;) The peek season for trees is over, I believe, as lots of leaves fell with the rain and cold wind that blew in. This past weekend we were in amazement every time we went out! Can't remember a fall with such amazing, vibrant colors!

We all have varying degrees of colds over here. Ben probably feels the worst out of all of us, with a nasty cough that keeps him awake. I tried to drug him last night (with consent, of course!) but that only worked half the night. Hopefully he will get better rest tonight!

Since it is so chilly out, I have been enjoying making one of my favorite foods....soup! Soup is so amazing. Versatile, filling, hot and delicious! Last night I whipped up a homemade vegetable soup which turned out really good! Well...most of us thought so. Eliana isn't so keen on vegetables all mixed together. Makes it too hard to pick out the ones she doesn't like, I guess!

Here is the link for that soup: Vegetable Soup. It was pretty easy and great for leftovers today! I served it with Homemade Saltines. They are pretty easy and good if you don't over bake them:)

On Sunday, there was a special presentation at church for third graders, as I mentioned. The church sees it as a pivotal time in the kids' faith journeys and presented them with their own Bibles. The week before, they had a parent meeting where parents got to write in the covers of the Bibles and/or highlight any favorite verses.

Samuel was so nervous when he realized this presentation was happening in front of the church! He almost didn't go! But thankfully he calmed down enough and now he loves his Bible so much, that he has been reading it every night and morning!

The children's director, Sandy, who does an amazing job, had some words of encouragement for the parents and the church, then for the third graders. She sang them a little song that she wrote for them and then they called each child up and presented them with their Bibles. I got a quick little video of Samuel below. After they filed out, they went into the sanctuary (where another more traditional service is held at the same time) and they got prayed over. It was really neat!

After that, we quickly left church and headed over to our friends' church, where Baby C was being baptized. We were only able to make it to the last hour of church since ours started about the same time. It was a very beautiful service and afterwards, we went over to their house, where several family members and friends were gathered to celebrate. We loved meeting their families and seeing the love they have for each other. It was easy to see where our friends get their gentleness and sweetness from!

Our kiddos just loved experiencing that and Eliana has asked every day since if we can go back to Baby C's church "tomorrow!" :)

Explaining time to a three year old is like banging your head against the wall. Over and over:)

Have a great night!

Saturday, November 2, 2013


 This weekend is prime weekend to enjoy the beautifully colored trees! I took another picture of a yellow tree that is close to our house...

So pretty!

October was my month to have my "date" with Zakkai. We couldn't squeeze in a time so we had it today~ hey, close enough to October! This morning Zakkai and I went to a packing party for Operation Christmas Child at our church along with lots of families. We all signed up to bring 20 of a certain item (socks, soap, matchbox cars, balls, etc). All of the items got arranged on tables covered in pink/blue/or green table cloths. We grabbed a box, decided if we were packing for a boy or girl and went from table to table, starting with the essentials (soap, washcloth, pair of socks, toothbrush/paste and a little bible) and then added toys!

Zakkai LOVED it! He is our little helper and is always eager to jump in when asked. He packed 5 boxes up and before we knew it, with all of the families helping, all 250 boxes were packed! They asked for helpers to stay and re-check all the boxes to make sure the essentials were in each one (because with kids helping, you never know! We did find a couple boxes filled with only toys:) and Zakkai asked if we could stay and help. He ran back and forth carrying re-checked boxes to the tables. Such a sweet boy!!

(ignore the mess in the background!) I made Baby Anna a little mattress and pillow for her cradle today, which thrilled Eliana to pieces!

Doesn't she look cozy? Eliana tucked her thumb in her mouth and settled her baby in for a good nap:) She is easy to please, this girl!

Speaking of, we are on the hunt for a toddler belt for her since she all too often sports "plumber butt" these days, except when wearing leggings. We went to three different stores looking for a pink belt today, to no avail. She is so excited for her pink belt:) I think I am going to have to hunt online. It isn't always easy to find things for petite little girls!

And she is petite! She had her 3 year check-up last week and she is once again 3rd % for height and 25th for weight. I did the height predictor calculator for her yesterday and it has her only being 4 ft 11 inches tall!! I do hope she reaches at least 5 feet but we love her, teeny tiny and all:)

Tomorrow is a busy day, with a special Bible presentation for third-graders (Samuel) at our church and the Baptism of Baby C at his church. A special day!

Now I am off to end this fall day with the perfect and oh-so-wonderful treat of Trader Joe's Pumpkin Ice cream. Mmm.....