Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year in Review

I can scarcely believe we are at the end of a year, and really the end of a decade. Back ten years ago in 1999 we were awaiting the dawn of a new millennium. I wasn't even married yet, let alone any kids in the picture! And now look where I am 10 years later! Anyway, 2009 has been a year of many blessings, 30th birthdays celebrated, a wonderful vacation taken, Josh's return to school, growth and maturing of kids, teeth lost, instruments started, and a special little man named Owen added to our family. I always love to look back over a year and remember where we started and see where we are now. Wishing you all a blessed start to 2010!!! (And wondering if anyone has a "word of the year" they are thinking on? I mentioned it last year--still trying to come to a decision for the new year). Happy New Year everyone!
And here's the list of Marissa's highlights from 2009 that made me smile--it's always fun to see the simple things that brought them delight:
1. Going on vacation
2. Playing in the rain
3. The 4th of July
4. My birthday
5. Making "Huckleberry Soup"
6. Movie Nights
7. Baby Owen
8. Feeding Geese
9. Climbing Trees
10. Going to the Children's Museum
11. Going to the zoo
13. Going to "Bethlehem"
14. Going to the Hen.ry Z.oo
15. My cast
16. Girls of Grace Sleepover
17. A Picnic at Maho.ney St.ate Par.k
18. Digging a snow tunnel
19. Going to the pumpkin farm
20. Becoming a Christian
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

One Week Old!

A few of our highlights from the last week:

Owen has been caught (often!) smiling in his sleep. And once I could have sworn I heard a chuckle. I'm not sure what a baby dreams about, but apparently, it's a lot of happy stuff. ;o)

Those curious little eyes just taking it all in. The kids get so excited when they see he is awake, and I have heard over and over "He is just the cutest baby EVER!" And "Take a picture of this!"
I know they say last children end up with hardly any pictures of them compared to the first. I daresay Owen will have the most . . .

And guess what?
I have ankles again. ;o)
Overall, this first week has been great. He's a pretty content little guy. And if you asked me how goes things with five, I'd say "Not too bad." But then I realized this:
People are bringing me meals
We eat them on paper plates
Josh has been heading up the cleaning and disciplining
We haven't REALLY gone anywhere
We aren't practicing violin
We aren't doing school
Josh hasn't begun 2nd semester . . .

So, ummm yes, five is completely doable at this point. But when I think about the activities that will have to be added back in over the next month I may sort-of-kind-of start to hyperventilate. ;o) But let's not think about that. Let's focus on the positive, like ANKLES!!! Life is good. ;o)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Owen's First Days

"But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." Luke 2:19

After the events of last week, this verse has been one I have thought on often. You can't help but be reflective when you're sitting through a Christmas Eve service with your own little tiny one in your arms. Going into this, knowing Owen is most likely our last baby (and I say "most likely" because I'm not so brave to declare "the end" when I know Someone Else could always have other plans . . .) ;o) has been bittersweet, and so I'm treasuring up lots of things, like:

~getting to hear those little baby sounds one more time

~marveling over each fearfully and wonderfully made little part

~cherishing that silky smooth skin

~the joy of just sitting and holding

~watching the love and tenderness each and every one of my older kids demonstrates towards him

~thankfulness, for being sustained through five pregnancies, making it through five labors, having five healthy babies--what a blessing

And, well, I could probably go on and on. My heart is so full and I am so in love with this baby boy. It's hard to believe he'll be drawing on my walls in a few years . . . ;o) He is just way too sweet for that. Thank you to everyone for your notes of congratulations, your prayers for me and my family--I treasure it all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Make-a-Memory #22

"Meet the new brother"

Owen Joshua arrived at 1:17 a.m. on December 22nd--narrowly missing being "on time" but we'll let that slide. ;o) He weighed 7 lbs 10 oz and was 20 1/4 inches long (I have to go back and check, but I think he is the "tallest" baby we've had). The sisters and brothers adore him, and we are hoping to leave the hospital by this evening or sooner and try to beat as much of this weather as we can. We are definitely counting our blessings this Christmas--five healthy kids!!! WOW!!!
(and yes, this day's original activity got usurped by life) ;o)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Make-a-Memory #21

"A Muffin Tin Meal--Nativity Style"~Pigs in a blanket made to look like Mary, Baby Jesus, and Joseph (with a bit of leftover crescent roll "staff"). Jesus is laying in a bed of shredded cheese "straw."
~An angel made from bread, coconut oil, and sugar cooked alongside the holy family
~And some stars cut from cheese
(There were also carrot sticks and orange slices--I had meant to get some starfruit, but that didn't happen--I couldn't really figure out a way to incorporate the other things so I just served them up in separate bowls) As I searched for ideas for this, I saw some who did crown shaped cheese toasts to represent the three kings, animals crackers to be the animals in the stable--I'm sure there are a lot more creative things that could be done.
(And for those of you wondering, I am yet again experiencing contractions today, much stronger ones, never-the-less very erratic, which once again, could mean anything. :o( To say the very least, having to schedule a whole bunch of appointments for NEXT week, like 2 non-stress tests, an ultrasound, etc. was incredibly depressing. Hopefully it won't come to that. Truly I appreciate your prayers--it's not so much dealing with all the physical stuff now, but the emotional ups and downs of all these false starts).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Make-a-Memory #20

"Gumdrop Ornaments" Okay, originally, these were to be gumdrop trees. However, I determined I would need to spend about $10 on styrofoam trees for each to have a small tree. That didn't seem like a very frugal or doable craft for me. I got a small bag of styrofoam balls instead, which with my 40% off coupon came to around $2.60. That was much better. We used those balls, broken in half toothpicks, and gumdrops. These got heavy very fast and did not hang well on my (real) Christmas tree--way too much weight. In hindsight, I'm thinking a better idea would have been to have gotten one medium sized styrofoam tree shape that we would have all worked on together. Emmett needed a lot of help, and even Isabella got burnt out trying to cover her ball up.
And one more sweet little picture, Emmett has begun to really draw "things"--
They're spiders, and I just find them adorable. Sometimes he adds wavy lines around them to be webs. And sometimes I discover Jackson, his sensibilities offended, adding noses to Emmett's artwork since Emmett did not see fit to do it himself. ;o) But every now and then he DOES remember a belly button--gotta get the important stuff in! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE when my kids start to use their imaginations and draw without direction, I really get to see their little minds at work.

Multiple Choice Quiz

I am not at church this morning because:

A) Josh pulled an all-nighter trying to get an online class done for it's deadline tomorrow and he is my chauffeur.

B) I've run out of shirts that are suitable morning church material that adequately cover my stomach--and it's cold out there!

C) The thought of trying to squeeze my feet into a pair of shoes--that aren't athletic shoes--made me want to cry.

D) Facing one more person whose eyes gravitate toward my stomach and then widen in shock and then say "WOA!" also made me want to cry (yes, this did happen . . .)

E) All of the above.

(But unless I have other plans we should be there tonight for the kids' concert, sneaking into the back row somewhere obscure). ;o)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Make-a-Memory #19

"Christmas lights tour in pajamas"With a bowl full of popcorn balls and freshly bathed and jammied children we drove around our "neighboring" neighborhoods oohing and ahhing over the lights we found, and admired some snowmen too. ;o) Our favorites were a house nearby that did it's own radio station and computerized the lights to go with it (Josh's dream some day) and a house that had these huge cylinder type lights hanging in trees that looked like melting icicles--I've never seen them before. Emmett was especially sad when we pulled into the garage and thought if he didn't make eye contact he could remain in his seat and drive around some more. (It didn't work). Truly a fun night for us that didn't require too much effort.


So, after a "labor tease" that lingered around most of yesterday, giving me hope of perhaps a baby last night or today, I greeted this morning--still pregnant--with despondency (devastation, despair, desperateness . . . and I'm sure a whole bunch of other words beginning with "d" if I could locate a thesaurus). I told myself not to get excited, I KNEW it might amount to nothing, but . . . yeah . . . I found myself DEpressed with a very long day stretching ahead of me.

And the best thing for me to do, is find stuff to do, rather than sit and dwell (another "d" word!!) on my largeness. So, I made those "Candy Cane Buttons" I told you about a few posts ago. I used circular pretzels that were "checkerboards" and placed a "candy cane kiss" atop each. Then stuck them in a 200 degree oven for about 8 minutes (or until they melted down--just watch them). Then I pulled them out and placed a mint m&m in the middle. I stuck mine in the freezer so they would harden up in a few minutes, and VOILA all done.
I also worked on wrapping Christmas presents, and thought I would share a fun little idea that I'm putting together for my 7 year old niece. She is getting into sewing so I made a simple kit for her to create with. In it was a variety of felts and embroidery flosses:

Plus, some embroidery hoops, needles, girly buttons, and little rolls of ribbon. I found a pretty pink basket that can store it all. Hopefully this will be something to keep her busy through the winter. I picked a lot of "Valentine" colors for her so she can be making stuff for Valentine's Day if she likes.
And last, I'm still working on these little ornaments, made from felt, embroidery floss, dowels, and a little ric rac bow. The idea is not my own--found it in a book at the library--but I thought they would make cute little ornaments for the kids this year. The girls are getting red, the boys green. I've not completed any green ones yet, so use your imagination. ;o)
And that's how the day went down. We still have our activity to do this evening and it's spaghetti night. As long as I just keep busy I can *almost* forget I'm even pregnant. ;o) Ha.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Make-a-Memory #18

"Paint Nutcrackers"There are four, but Isabella's has gone AWOL, having not yet returned from a "hay rack ride" earlier this evening. The original plan was to paint wooden ornaments, but we saw these at, I think I got them for less than $1 a piece, and they already had faces painted on. For some reason my kids LOVE nutcrackers, so change of plans. And the boys particularly have had a blast with them--which is why Jackson's already has a chip in his hat. ;o) They built them houses out of blocks, had them driving tractors . . . all sorts of great fun. And if you are still looking to do any Christmas crafting, my goodness are stores starting to clearance their stuff out! The Valentine's stuff is already moving in!

Makes me Laugh . . .

So, I woke up in the middle of the night with "The 12 Days of Christmas" playing in my head. Ever had that happen? And it wasn't just any "12 Days of Christmas" but a certain version I had seen on last year. It makes me laugh every time--and Josh says I am easily amused--but really I'm not so much a "LOL" kind of person. ;o) (In fact just the other day I was laughing and my girls heard me and ran to find me to see what I was laughing about because it was such a rare thing . . . I asked them, "I don't laugh much?" And Marissa replied, "You just seem worn out all the time . . ." Oops. So, I'm thinking that may be something I need to work on). Anyway, follow this link if you need some amusement in your day. ;o)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Make-a-Memory #17

"Make Christmas Cards" Simple, painless, and yet this small pile of cards probably kept them happily busy for about an hour. I rummaged up some card stock and folded it in half, and then gave them crayons and Christmas stickers. REALLY easy. But now we have some "from the heart" cards to disperse. ;o)

Currently everyone is watching "The Polar Express" and eating popcorn. It is still supposed to be nap time for the boys. But lately we have been having some issues at nap time. It would seem Jackson is beginning to outgrow his three hour nap, because the last three or four days he hasn't taken one. And the last three or four days he has slept in until--are you ready for this--6:45! :oP Something is not adding up there. But then, Emmett has been arriving in my room somewhere in between 5:30 and 6:00 these last few mornings and climbing up between Josh and I. It's like they flipped or something. Baffling.

And lastly, some recipes I have wanted to share, the first one being for some cranberry muffins that are really, really yummy. There is a suggestion on this recipe to omit the pecans and throw in some white chocolate chips instead. And yep, that is a tasty suggestion. ;o) Head here for that recipe. And the second recipe is for a fun little twist on the whole almond bark/pretzel phenomenon. I did something similar for Valentine's Day and now I'm looking forward to trying out this Christmas version--and it's SOOOO easy, but looks so cool. Head here for that idea.
And I'm doing okay--just trying to ignore the fact there is still a baby in there and keep busy. ;o) I still have Christmas shopping left to do. I had hoped to be been done long ago, but in the end it is nice to have something to keep my mind occupied with. I'm trying to finish up some felt "kid ornaments" but that has proved to be slow and tedious with these silly numb fingers. So many little things you take for granted when everything is working properly! Overall, December has gone crazy fast, and each day is one day closer . . .
Right? ;o)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Make-a-Memory #16

"Make an Orange Pomander"
Directions found here. (Although we opted not to hang them up) Marissa's--Started out to be a star, but after lamenting her lack of star-drawing capabilities we changed it to swirls, crisis averted.
Isabella's--lots of close together stripes that would have gone all the way around had we not run out of cloves.
Jackson's--began as a happy face, then he pulled everything out to make it look like the polka dots that I was doing, then he pulled all that out and made a snowman, with of course a carrot nose.
Emmett's--began as a face like Jackson's, but he got a bit sidetracked when he realized how much fun it was to stick poky objects into oranges. So his has a few cloves and a few REALLY BIG holes caused by pencil stabbings. (How wise it was to introduce my boys to the joys of poking holes in fruit . . . . I'll keep you updated.) ;o)
And oh, the house smells soooo good--cloves and citrus--yummy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Make-a-Memory #15

"Gingerbread Day"
I actually had plans for today to be a bit more magnificent than it ended up being. In the end we made gingerbread play-dough--which basically you just take your favorite play-dough recipe and add spices to it it, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, or whatever. The spices give it more of a brown color and make it smell good. And then we all love Jan Brett's gingerbread stories. I had hoped to make some real cookies today, either ginger-snaps or gingerbread men, but didn't get around to either.
Another idea I want to share is doing a felt gingerbread display. (We actually did this a few weeks ago). I cut out some gingerbread men from felt and glued on mini rick-rack as a frosting design. Jackson then picked out all the colors he wanted the features and assembled them on a piece of hard felt I had pinned to the wall. The girls also enjoyed this activity, treating it more like paper dolls, digging into the felt container to design all sorts of clothes for the men. In the end it really was a multi-age activity.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Make-a-Memory #14

"Snowman Snowglobes"Materials used:
Large size baby food jars
Mini snowman ornaments with hangers removed (plastic so they could withstand being submerged in water)
Florist clay
Bottled Water

The real directions recommend using hot glue to seal the lid (another place said to use aquarium glue). I didn't do this, nor did I attempt to glue the lid with anything else. It was a fun and cute little project, but not something I see "going the distance" in our house. ;o) Our glitter floats, so we just kind of shake them up and cause a blizzard and then wait for another "snow cloud" to form. Jackson found it the most exciting, "I see something red in there!!!" was a statement uttered over and over again.

Being Still

"My soul waits in silence for God only . . ." Psalm 62:1a The nature outside right now is positively thrilling. I snapped a few shots on the way home from my midwife appointment today--NOT while I was driving mind you, but I did pull off on a quiet road and take a few pictures from the window of my van. It is sooooo pretty and just calling for us to get bundled up and explore. Unfortunately, I don't see myself trying to maneuver any deep snow for any more pictures in my current state. ;o)

I must at this point, admit some discouragement. The good news, 2 cm down, 8 cm to go. ;o) The bad, no thinning and a baby who's just kind of hanging around in a face up position. Pretty much all my babies have done this, and this is what causes bad back labor. I've managed to do all my labors without pain meds and I would prefer to do it this way again. But the thought of what's up ahead has me feeling rather weary with moments of panic descending. And I'm bummed that my midwife will be out of town this upcoming weekend/Monday. So I have given myself a time frame of either going in the next few days or going L.A.T.E.
And that's what I'm trying to reconcile with today. The fact *my plans* might be ignored--the plans that included not being late, not being in the hospital over Christmas . . . I honestly hadn't let myself consider the possibility. Or that even though my midwife has been able to deliver the other four, she might not be there for this one. As always it seems to me that my plans make such good sense, so carefully thought out . . .
Waiting is always hard. Waiting quietly, submissively for Him to work His way and plans. So often I'm busy, dancing around, fluttering here and there, trying to work it all the way I want it. I still have so much to learn about being still. To keep a heart that is calm and quiet, one that willingly goes with His plan.
Psalm 103:14
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.
While I must admit to feeling more "clod-like" than "dust-like" at the moment, I do find comfort in this verse, that as always He knows what He is doing. He knows how I am feeling and He is compassionate. It is just my job to humbly wait while He works His plan out for my good.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Make-a-Memory #13

"Christmas Concert at Church"
No pictures to share, no crafts or baking, but we did enjoy the beautiful music brought to us by our church's choir and orchestra tonight. What a wonderful message portrayed through song. It was fun for me to have the opportunity to "sit one out" this year and just sit back and enjoy the music. Well, you know, enjoy as much as you can while trying to keep two active boys from embarassing you. ;o)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Make-a-Memory #12

"A Bethlehem Experience"
Tonight we attended what you could call a live nativity, but it really is so much more than that. We've done it every year since a church in our city began putting it on. And every year the kids love it, following the "star, " the real animals, and of course baby Jesus.The girls listening as the shepherds tell them about angels appearing.
I always get goosebumps when the shepherds come running in with such excitement. It really does make you think about what it would have been like to be in a bustling Bethlehem that night over 2000 years ago.
Daddy and Emmett sampling some figs--a complete sensory experience.
And of course, we stayed to munch on a few cookies after we got to see baby Jesus. We're glad we got to have a fun family night together tonight.
And now I must leave you with one completely unrelated picture:
It's Emmett, and his first foray into "guy-liner" also known as mascara that he did himself up with this morning. And on his chin? That would be lipstick. It's also on his stomach, and the bath did not remove it tonight. Bee-you-ti-ful. (At least he did seem to understand the general areas these things should be applied, although I'm not sure that makes it any better . . .) ;o)

Make Your Predictions!

Picture taken this past Sunday, 38 weeks pregnant
Okay, here's what you need to know:
Marissa--7 lbs 5 oz, born 1 day before due date on 10/19
Isabella--6 lbs 11 oz born 2 days before due date on 7/24
Jackson--8 lbs 5 oz born ON his due date 8/23
Emmett--6 lbs 5 oz born 13 days before his due date on 3/15
With the first three I gained in the vicinity of 30-35 lbs, with Emmett it was closer to 40 lbs, and this pregnancy finds me closer to 40 lbs also. However, I'm consoling myself with the fact that surely about 20 lbs is water weight from all the swelling, right? ;o) Don't answer that.
So, how big will this little boy be, and what day is he coming? Keeping in mind if you dare say more than 9 lbs and past my due date we will no longer be friends. ;o) Just kidding. (Okay, maybe a little bit serious . . . ) Just praying for a healthy baby and a safe delivery--what a blessing that would be to be able to do this five times and not have anything out of the ordinary happen.
My prediction--7 lbs 11 oz and born on 12/19
Josh--7 lbs 9 oz and born on 12/18
Marissa--9 lbs 6 oz and born on 12/23 (she is being excommunicated from the family) ;o)
Isabella--8 lbs and born on 12/21
Jackson--7 lbs 5 oz and born on 12/18
Emmett--7 lbs "lollipop" and born on"ummmm this one" he says as he points (?) ;o)
Leave your guesses in the comments, I have no grand prizes planned except you will get the satisfaction of being right. ;o)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Make-a-Memory #11

"A Cocoa and Movie Night"The snacks--cocoa with whipped topping, popcorn, and chocolate peppermint snaps (cookies)
All snuggled up together on our couch's hide-a-bed. I chose today to wash the couch's slipcover since getting to pull out the bed and watch a movie is such an exciting and rare occurrence in our house. Sometimes it is amazing what simple things can make their whole day. ;o)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Make-a-Memory #10

"Paper Chains" Jackson and Mommy worked together.
Emmett and a "baby chain"--this Mommy made for him after he took a glue stick and a stack of paper and stuck them together one on top of the other, and then found a stray gray crayon and doodled a few lines. ;o) Then he realized his didn't look like everyone else's, and well, that just wouldn't do.
The girls collaborated efforts to make a super long chain that they ended up hanging across their room. However, it was Jackson's clever idea for his room that made all of us smile: And now you're smiling too. ;o)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Make-a-Memory #9

Snow outside . . . So fittingly, snow inside!
"Snowman Head Ornaments"
Materials Needed: Some empty glass ball ornaments, fake snow, pom-poms, and orange clay noses (I made these myself yesterday out of some Fimo and then baked them so they were already to go). Fill your balls with snow, and then hot glue on the faces. Aside from "snow" getting everywhere it is a very simple and quick little craft. The noses were probably the favorite of everyone. (Thanks Kathy for the idea!) ;o)
We're staying "snowed in" today. Our Wednesday night church activities have been cancelled, so we'll just stay snug. I'm wishing I could view the snow from a window in the country somewhere. A new and treeless neighborhood just doesn't do a good snowstorm justice. I heard from my mom that my dad is having a great time with his new little bobcat "toy" clearing paths and making piles. ;o) And I am fondly recalling getting pulled by a tractor on a hog feeder lid across yard and fields. Snow was always hugely exciting on the farm. I still get a thrill from a big storm, but it's just not quite the same. Stay safe and warm everyone!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Make-a-Memory #8

"Peppermint Play-Dough" A nice big double-batch of "red" (such a hard color to get!) peppermint-scented, glitter-infused play-dough should be keeping us busy this morning. The snow is falling, my Mann.heim Steamroller's playing, home smelling of peppermint . . . Doesn't get much better than that. I take that back--add in a cup of chai and some soup in the crock pot, and I think we have a perfect day. ;o) Josh is escorting me to my midwife appointment this afternoon providing they don't close their office or something. Top two things I'm looking forward to after delivering this baby:
1. Being able to actually zip a coat
2. Shoe options that stretch beyond my athletic shoes (seriously I've been contemplating Josh's, that's how swollen we're talking, or maybe I'll just traipse around in snow boots?) ;o)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Make-a-Memory #7

"Gingerbread House Making"

With this activity I think we have accomplished the more labor intensive/sugar-filled activities. Phew. ;o) The boys and girls each got their own house--from a kit. I have always had this desire to do a gingerbread house from scratch. Some day. For now, the kit at Wal.mart is perfect. Although my sister mentioned how they did "trees" using sugar cones, green frosting, and various candies. I really like that idea, and it would be a bit simpler than trying to hold a house together (the girls had a seriously heavy roof . . .). You will notice that by the last picture the boys' house was beginning to miss a few pieces--wonder where those could have gone . . . ? ;o) Among other news we're enjoying our first official day of "Christmas Break" and I got some extra things done today, like, "Oh, there is a kitchen floor underneath all that" and "Hello, shiny microwave insides!" Bathrooms are also on the agenda--all three are rather scary places to be right now. ;o)

SNOW much Joy

8:07 a.m. Jackson woke up somewhere in the vicinity of 6 a.m. He had grands plans for his day, all involving snow. He spent 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. unearthing the things he needed for this adventure, despite his mother's lack of enthusiasm. He awoke his father to inform him of his plans for Daddy to make him a big "Snow Potato"--he was going to stick in his potato head parts to decorate. Finally, since he HAD dressed himself fairly decently, I relented and sent him out for a few minutes to "make footprints." We all watched him from the window, and the crazy and utter delight he found in running around out there. Oh that boy. ;o)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Make-a-Memory #6

"Homemade Cocoa Mix" Since today was Sunday, and pretty much the busiest day of our week each week, I planned a really simple activity--make our own cocoa mix. The kids helped me dump all the dry ingredients in and stir. (And of course managed to make a big powdery mess of this too.) ;o)
Then we drank cocoa with snowman marshmallows in it.
And it was a PERFECT cocoa day, we watched the beautiful snow fall--our first "real" snow this season (I'm not counting that weird October snow) sipped our cocoa and munched on cookies. Definitely my kind of day. ;o)