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Friday, December 31, 2010

So Long 2010


God has blessed us with another beautiful year.  We are so abundantly rich in His blessings.  I look at these pictures full of smiling faces and find my heart staggering at the beauty and joy and celebration I see.  How blessed am I to have a job that I love and am passionate about?  How blessed to be entrusted with the upbringing of five fabulous little people?  How blessed to continue to age and mature and keeping growing every year?  It truly is a wonderful life. 

Thank you for reading along this year--I'm always surprised to find out how many out there enjoy my babblings and ramblings and sub-par photography. ;o)  I'm praying each of you is looking back with gratefulness over this last year too--and looking forward with anticipation to a brand-new-bright-and-shiny year to fill with wonderful memories.  Happy, happy new year!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010--the year of stillness

What stillness meant this year . . .

It meant combined hours and hours of nursing a baby, having definite stops and breaks during the day to tend to his needs--I always forget how lovely those are.  Sometimes when I get busy in a project I can resent having to stop, and I wouldn't stop if I didn't have to.  Owen forced me to stop and slow life to accommodate him.  Little breaks, pockets of stillness, are good things.

It meant being the most consistent I have ever (EVER!) been in a regular morning time in God's Word.  I still didn't do it perfectly.  And I still have to consciously make my wandering thoughts pay attention at times (I'm not sure how it's possible to be "reading" and have my eyes moving down a page but totally thinking of something else, but it is a skill I do quite well . . .).

It meant realizing that the quieter and less busy I keep my life (as in staying at home and not needing to be somewhere every day) the happier I am. 

It meant loneliness sometimes too, learning to accept that there are Good Things out there, but at the stage of life I'm in, I can't do them.  I read somewhere that when you say YES to something, you are also saying NO to something else.  Saying YES to five children means saying NO to so many other things right now.

It has meant being content in what sometimes feels like stagnancy--Josh in school, we continue renting . . . Sometimes it feels like we've been in this spot forever and we're not moving forward.  I know we are, we have a plan . . . It's a slow plan though.  I've been honing a content heart for years now, and I think I'm doing the best job I've ever done.

I've learned to truly treasure the moments of quiet and alone time when I get them--they are few and far between--but a wonderful gift when they do occur.  I'm not sure if there is anything more refreshing right now.

I discovered this song this year that I LOVE and fits just perfect, listen to it here.

Still my soul be still, and do not fear though winds of change may rage tomorrow.
God is at your side, no longer dread the fires of unexpected sorrow.

Chorus:
God You are my God, and I will trust in You and not be shaken.
Lord of peace renew a steadfast spirit within me to rest in You alone.

Still my soul be still, do not be moved by lesser lights and fleeting shadows.
Hold onto His ways with shield of faith against temptations flaming arrows.

Chorus:

God You are my God, and I will trust in You and not be shaken.
Lord of peace renew a steadfast spirit within me to rest in You alone.

Still my soul be still, do not forsake the Truth you learned in the beginning.
Wait upon the Lord and hope will rise as stars appear when day is dimming.

Chorus:

God You are my God, and I will trust in You and not be shaken.
Lord of peace renew a steadfast spirit within me to rest in You alone.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Our Christmas Summary

Our Christmas Eve picture--
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The Cooley Cousins (minus the four from Texas)--
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Singing happy birthday to Jesus on Christmas morning--
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Owen REALLY enjoying the boys' present--
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Cousins on the Hansmeyer side lined up and awaiting gift distribution--
~
We had a fun weekend, busy enough without being too busy.  The kids are super enjoying their new stuff. 
The favorite gifts:
Marissa--ridiculously excited to get an adult book on how to write children's fiction (she began reading it right away) ;o)
Isabella--got "Felicity" a combination present from us and grandparents.  Felicity is the colonial American girl doll and is currently accompanying Bella everywhere
Jackson--the Jessie doll from Toy Story (along with an alien, Mr. Pricklepants, and soldiers--we nearly have enough for a display)
Emmett--the cars/roadway/garage (also a combo gift involving us and both sets of grandparents)
Owen--he's really into his Usborne "That's Not My . . ." books, he got the snowman one and the penguin one and he has exhibited some concern if somebody else is looking at them. 
As for Josh and I, I got him a heating pad so he would stop sticking his cold feet on me when he comes to bed (and he loves it!) and he got me a wireless mouse/laptop sleeve so I am fully mobile--since I foresee SO much time off by myself in a coffee house with my laptop. ;o)   One gift I'm super excited about was from my parents--tickets for me and the girls to see Joshua Bell when he comes to the Lied next month.  It has been CRAZY long since I've gotten to go see something there (or *ahem* anywhere). ;o)
~
And that brings Christmas 2010 to a close.  I absolutely cannot believe that 2011 is just a few days away. 
I've been thinking of my "word of the year"--do you have one yet? ;o)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Days 22&23

Yesterday our activity was celebrating Owen's birthday--

We decorated the chalkboard and hung up birthday cards . . .
We got him balloons . . .
We had a tasty brunch-styled meal, opened presents, and blew out the candle on his cake.
(Everybody laughed at my candle placement, but it seemed the most logical place, "corncob pipe" and all.  He's probably ruined for life). ;o)
We gave Owen his first taste of cake.  I think that tongue hanging out means he liked it? ;o)

And we snapped a decent pic of all five together.  They love their little buddy!
~~~
And today we had our muffin tin nativity meal (pretty similar to last year) only that coconut-covered banana is suppose to be a woolly sheep--you all got that right? ;o)
And I think that wraps up our "make-a-memory" activities for 2010!
Tomorrow will be our normal Christmas Eve stuff, and Christmas morning will be our birthday party for Jesus.  I may pop in with some Christmas wishes, but the blog should be quiet for awhile--I'll be busy recuperating and vacuuming glitter.  I think I finally got most of it washed from my hair.  Oh well, I guess sparkly dandruff is better than the other kind. :o)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy 1st Owen!!!

In those first hours following your birth I should have been sleeping.
Instead, my mind raced with joy--you were here!!!
My heart burst with awe and praise--five healthy children!!!
And while you slept, and your daddy slept, I lay wide awake in my hospital bed praising God for you, teary-eyed and emotional, feeling completely and undeservedly blessed.
I will never forget those quiet, dark, and snowy first few hours of your life.
I relished the weight of a baby in my arms again.
I cherished you sleeping on my chest.
Fully conscious of how fast a year can pass, I snapped pictures of everything,
fingers and ears,
forehead wrinkles and feet.
I wanted to savor every last moment, remember every last thing,
because I knew . . .
. . . I knew.
 You were to be the last.
And so I shoved cameras at whoever was available.
I wanted to remember how I looked with an infant cuddled close.
My memories of last winter are sweet ones.  Ones of quiet and stillness, and lots of sitting and staring.
You were adored.
For the last 365 days you have been unabashedly loved.
In fact, nightly I have been told, "I am thankful for my sweet baby Owen," when I ask your siblings to tell me what they're thankful for--by at least one, if not several of them.  And on the eve of your birthday they were
giddy with excitement that the next day was YOUR day. 
We have watched you grow and change this year.  We have giggled and laughed at your antics.  We have hugged and squeezed and snuggled to our hearts' content.
You have become the very heart of our family.
You are our precious treasure.
I praise God for you sweet Owen.
You will always be my "bonus round."
Happy birthday littlest man!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day 21

"Make Owen's Birthday Cake"
Tomorrow's the party, and today the kids helped me ready this cute little snowman cake and clean up the house in anticipation of guests coming to celebrate our baby's first birthday.
A year ago today about this time I was wandering around Super Saver with my family, commenting that these contractions were starting to hurt a bit more.  But I had been having on-again/off-again contractions for awhile, so I wasn't going to get too excited.  Ha!
Did I ever mention that we got to the hospital when I was just about 9 cm?
Such fond memories . . .
Anyway, I'm also down to the wire on finishing Owen's birthday gift:
It's a fabric photo album, featuring rainbow colored pages and 12 photos I printed off on iron-on fabric.
I still have a tiny bit of hand-sewing left (closing up the pages), but I think I'm going to pull it off.
This morning it was seriously a pile of unsewed fabric!
Nothing like living on the edge! ;o)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 20

"Make Paper Snowflakes"
Originally I was going to do a mitten garland, but I'm starting to lose steam. :o)  Instead we used coffee filters and snipped ourselves a blizzard for our window.  The boys obviously struggled with this craft a bit--neither of them have cutting skills that are up to par (unless of course it's their own hair . . .) but I took directions for "their" snowflakes, like "Cut a diamond there!" or "Make a curvy line there!" And it all worked quite well.
And rather serendipitously my resident poet, Marissa, crafted a little tome entitled "Blizzards" today that I shall leave you with.
Blizzards
Blizzard and it's dull gray clouds
Cover the sad day with a shroud.
The snowflakes are white and made of lace
and fall to the ground in a glorious pace.
The weight of the snow makes branches droop
I'm gonna eat some potato soup.
The snow swirls outside my window
I think it wants to put on a show.
Some blizzards are big and boasting
And through the town it will be coasting.
Some blizzards are quiet and shy
and soar softly across the sky.
And that night when no one's awake
the blizzard will silently, silently take
the houses, the sidewalks and crooked old trees
the sheds, the pond, and my garden of peas.
So when you go out please build a snowman
Who welcomes the blizzards like nobody can.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Days 18&19

I know, I'm late. But yesterday, Day 18, we scrapped plans, that winter scene is just not happening. ;o) In it's place we spent a few hours at my sister's home celebrating my nephew Drew's 2nd birthday.  Then we thought, "Hey, let's go roam the mall together as a family of seven on a Saturday the week before Christmas." It was as fun as it sounded.  And then we came home and played a rousing game of hide and seek.  I believe Marissa gets the award for the best spot--she managed to squeeze herself into an empty diaper box. (!!!) She said it was cramped. ;o)
And today, Day 19 we're going to be enjoying the children's program at church (yep, another freebie).
So, boring stuff to blog about.
In light of that I thought I would take the opportunity to show you my Christmas/winter decorating, seeing as it's nearly Christmas and before you know it stuff will be coming down again.  Actually, aside from the tree and stockings I think most of my stuff has a wintry enough feel to it that I'm sure it remain through January, if not February too.
~~~
First up, a winter burlap banner, replacing the autumn one, and my most favorite pine cone of all, a huge sugar pine cone that I got at Michael's last year . . . it's about 14 inches long!
Next, on the piano, a window box filled with cedar boughs from my parents' trees, spruce cones I painted/glittered, and the "Silent Night" sign I made last year.
And here's the hutch, my most favorite thing to decorate for the seasons.  It's similar to last year but with a more neutral palette going on.  I swapped some pictures out of those frames and put in my JOY letters (since I wasn't "feeling" the red frames this year).  And yes, those are green pumpkins.  It seemed a shame to throw out a good pumpkin just 'cause fall was over, and I liked how they looked.
And finally, the spot that never fully got completed.  I meant to get another bottle-brush tree for the empty cloche.  It didn't happen.  I wouldn't mind an apothecary jar or two or another cloche.  But I was trying to use what I had, and well, this is what I had. ;o)  Good enough.
And there you have it, a tour through Christmas Decor' 2010.  ;o)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Keepin' it Real--

Last year (and 50 pounds ago) . . .
While I'm kind of missing the anticipation of meeting another new bundle of joy
I'm NOT missing those ankles (or lack thereof), feet, toes, and a whole slew of other ailments.
If that picture isn't an excellent method of birth control I don't know what is! ;o)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Day 17

"Christmas Lights Tour in Jammies with Sweet Munchies"
It hasn't happened yet, but that's our plan for this evening.  My mother-in-law gave me a clipping from the local paper listing the addresses of the best spots in town.  I also found this map if you're local and in need of some fun this evening. I must admit to enjoying today, no messy kitchen to contend with or hot glue burns to nurse. ;o)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 16

"Goody Making Day"
So, here are the goodies . . . candy-dipped pretzels and puppy chow . . . because I didn't think we were consuming enough sugar between the decorated cookies and fudge and peppermint popcorn and all. ;o)
And oh you should have seen my kitchen.  Emmett somehow got to be the designated sugar sprinkler, a title I believe he was a bit premature to hold.  While cleaning up Marissa complimented me on being a good mommy, suspiciously I asked her "Because I make you lots of sweets?"
"No, because you didn't get upset with how crazy Emmett got with the sugar," she replied.
Awwww.  Chalk one up for me (and perhaps it off-set my reaction later when he dashed the Europe and Asia continent puzzles to the ground). :oP
And so the morning was devoted to sugar in its varying forms.
Guess what the afternoon was devoted to?
Hint:
Don't you just love a good pre-Christmas purge?  The girls' room was sorely in need.  Between the silly-band collection, 73 notepads of varying sizes, and miscellaneous fairy drawings, there was stuff EVERYWHERE.  Oh, and I realized why their available socks had dwindled down to about 3 pair between the 2 of them--somebody has been tossing dirty socks in the closet!  I was quite excited to find those. ;o)
But I was brutal (and my trash bag was full!) and now we have this: 
(for a few moments at least) ;o)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 15

"Make Snow Gnomes"
I envisioned these frosty looking guys, in blues and whites frolicking in our (yet-to-be-created) snow scene.  And for the most part Marissa, Isabella, and Emmett shared the same vision (but added a bit of decoration to the hat).  They were kind enough to go along with the pattern I had on hand.
And then there was Jackson--
Let me tell you how this went down . . .
Jackson whines, "I don't want a silly hat, I want a prince with a crown!"
I cut out a crown.
"Give him a red coat."
I locate the red.
"He needs a sword."
I snip/whittle/hot glue toothpicks to be a sword.
He looses that one.
I make a second one.
"I want another coat that sticks up around his neck."
I snip and fiddle.
"No, that's too big . . ." I snip some more, "Yeah, like that and make it stand up."
I fasten what is essentially a green pop-up collar.
"He needs a sheath for his sword."
At this point I give him the evil eye and state I will not be making a sheath.  He sobs. Grumbling I set about making a sheath out of felt and hot glue.  I attach it on the prince's waist.
"Nooooooo!" He wails. "It goes on the other side!" More tears.
I make an adjustment. Phew, satisfied customer.
Don't get me started on the princess.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day 14

"Paint and Glitter Salt Dough Snowflake Ornaments"
Ack. I know, more glitter.  Goodness it is everywhere at this point . . . and I have to even wonder how much we may have ingested since we do most of these crafts in the kitchen area . . . However, the salt dough was really fun to work with, it's kind of like a stiff gritty play dough.  These got baked at 300 degrees for roughly an hour, we let them cool and then painted/glittered them.  I rolled a few little balls into a snowman and baked that too.  It turned out pretty cute.  The salt dough brought back fun memories for me--we had a little salt dough teddy bear ornament on our family tree growing up and I remember my sister Lynsi licking it every year. ;o) It was--for lack of another word--salty. ;o)
~~~
Other news on the home front--Isabella finished a little 6 week session of gymnastics (yes, we finally caved) and graduated to the next level.  Unfortunately she'll have to wait until summer because they only offer one class and that interferes with all of our Wednesday night activities. Maybe she'll have lost interest come summer? ;o) 
--Marissa finished her first cross stitch project:
--And tonight we're having breakfast supper.  Mainly because I had originally planned a more complicated meal and didn't get it started in time and also, I just so happened to bake cranberry muffins today which would go nicely with some scrambled eggs.  Or a breakfast burrito.  And some orange julius. 
Oh, and I heard the new Trader Joe's in town sells refrigerated hollandaise sauce.  Does anyone know if it is any good?  I think I would enjoy having Eggs Benedict on a more regular basis (without having to make a sauce). ;o)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 13

"Make Gingerbread Houses"
We did a little switch with activities today, making gingerbread houses instead of the winter scene (which may or may not happen as I have not located plaster).  This kit for a "gingerbread village" was $9 at Walmart (I'm thinking it is looking more like a "gingerbread shantytown" but whatever). ;o)  It was really a great little kit since each kid got their own house and full creative license. 
And Owen found the perfect place to hang out during the whole process--
Is he brilliant or what? 
Sitting under the table, finding whatever falls on the floor . . . we've officially created a little sweet tooth monster. ;o)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 12

"Attend Church Christmas Concert"
Upon reading the slip of paper announcing what we were doing today Marissa said with confusion, "But we were doing that anyway."
True.  It was a freebie day for me. ;o)

So, we went to the concert.   I sustained a paper cut just prior to the start that kept bleeding through the first two songs, rendering me nearly incapable playing . . . just kidding. ;o)  I think it was Frederic Chopin that would cancel concerts if he had a hangnail?  But don't quote me on that.

My favorite song was "Here With Us" which you can go check out here.  The phrase about the hands of God being so small just floors me.  When I think of the tiny baby hands I've had the privilege to marvel over, and then consider Mary doing the same over Jesus' hands . . . goosebumps. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day 11

"Cookie Decorating Day"
Seeing as we have officially finished up school this week and Josh finished up his classes just today (YIPPEE! Student teaching here he comes!), it seemed only appropriate we do something super fun this snowy Saturday.  We coerced encouraged Josh to join in on our festivities, which went a little something like this:
Me, "Careful with that squeeze bottle sometimes they get clogged and explode."
About three cookies into it,  Josh has caused a frosting bomb of epic proportions . . .
He was then demoted to cleaning crew. ;o)
Jackson won the award for "Can I have some cookie with that frosting?" this year:
In the end I believe an enjoyable time was had by all.
(After taking this picture they all began running laps around the living room, I assume due to sugar overload)
And thank goodness we're done with school, because it's going to take the better part of next week to return my kitchen to its pristine state (yes, I'm giggling guffawing). ;o)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Day 10

"Make Fudge"
It was supposed to be the night we take in a live nativity, however, it seems this year everyone in town decided not to do one.  Sadness.  And what does one do when feeling sad? Why eat chocolate, of course! ;o) Here is my never-fail-no-way-can-you-screw-this-up fudge recipe--no candy thermometers involved! 

The Surgeon

Yesterday morning I happened upon Jackson in the midst of intense play-dough play.  The table was strewn with gingerbread men, most with their legs cut off.  I was disturbed that such a macabre scene was being
produced by my son.
Upon questioning him on the cut-off legs, he informed me they were getting new knees (Grandpa has recently had knee replacement surgery you see).   So, I observed the process:
1.  Cut off the leg
2. Take a the end of a small rolling pin and hollow out a little spot in the "stump"
3.  Roll a little ball (knee) place it in the hollow  
  
4. Reattach
5.  Good as new! (Some atrophy is to be expected, but with therapy, this little fellow should be getting around just fine in no time)
;o)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day 9

"Paint a Snowman Picture"
We got out the paints today.  The older three had the opportunity to use some lovely *thick and chunky* acrylic which I believe was a *fun* medium to work with. ;o) (It was old . . . and I hadn't checked before pulling it out if it was still any good).  Emmett did his picture after awakening from nap, and for him we used a nicer set of water colors we have--I was surprised with how well the white showed up against the blue.  We hung them upstairs on a blank wall.  Hopefully, we will continue to add a few more pictures to our art wall over the winter months.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day 8

"Make Popcicle Stick Snowflakes"


This one is a bit of an improvisation--I had meant to buy a collection of white buttons that we would glue all over the sticks.  It would have been so pretty. But alas, it did not happen, so more white paint and glitter.  (Have you caught onto my theme yet?) ;o)  They're going to get hung in the tree.  For now they are setting in a container with my other cheap decorating tip for 2010--go to your parents' home and prune their cedar trees of all the heaviest "berry" laden branches. ;o)  I've got greenery tucked everywhere and I love those little blue berries on them, and it was *free*. 
~~~
And this morning I was told to "C'mere!" I found my little mommy Bella sitting in the kid-sized rocking chair with Owen--she had rocked him into slumber:

I have the BEST big sister helpers--Marissa will give him stroller rides around the house (inside, in the umbrella stroller) while serenading him to all of the verses of "What Child is This?" and Isabella loves to sit and cuddle him up.  Both of them have induced him to sleep many a time.  I don't know what I would do without them!