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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's A Girl!!

We had our ultra-sound today and were hoping to find out the sex of the baby. My hopes were for a girl just because Abigail would be closer in age to her. David was hoping for a girl as that would make coaching easier for him since he will coach the boys in the family. There are some other logistics with a baby girl that would be helpful as well. At first the baby had its feet in the way and just wouldn't move. The ultrasound technician commented at how calm this baby was (calm - we need that!!!!). Disappointed that we most likely wouldn't find out, I did some jumping jacks. It worked! Baby moved and the technician told us that as much as you can be sure with a girl, this was it. So it's not a 100% deal, but pretty safe to say. All in all, it was a great experience, the lady who did the ultrasound was great. Baby looks healthy and due date was moved to May 20, 2011 (only 3 days prior to Nathan's birthday).
To top off the good news, my mom got a Christmas bonus and is thinking she may be able to come out now for the birth. Blessings all around!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

An Unexpected Gift


On Christmas Eve the postman rang our doorbell to deliver one last gift. We were pleasantly surprised by it. It came in beautiful green packaging. It was from a very dear, dear lady from my online knitting group. A while ago I had shared how over-excited Abigail got when she saw her first ever pink Christmas tree at Kohl's. It wasn't just usual excitement. She was beside herself. :-) It was so funny that I had to tell the online group and shortly a discussion about pink trees followed. So when I unwrapped the present and found a pink tree inside, it just made me laugh. Gigi told us that her and her husband Dave had gone to Kohl's and found these trees on clearance and just couldn't help themselves. They just had to buy it. Abigail was more than happy they did! She was thrilled. Here are the pictures.

This is when Abigail first sees the tree. Unfortunately Nathan walked through the picture at the same time.
"Mama, it's so pretty!"

"And it has lights!"


Feeling it, admiring it.

Then she literally did the happy dance. She was moving around too much, so the picture didn't come out that good.

She asked if she could decorate it and we were sure she would go "steal" some of our ornaments. However, she went and got all her necklaces, bracelets and hair clips and put them on her tree. How fitting, wouldn't you say? Most of them are pink so they are hard to see.


Thank you Gigi and Dave! That was really sweet and Abigail is loving the tree.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all a merry Christmas where you may experience God's peace and joy in your lives.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The saddest little boy...

Yesterday we went to the mall as there were supposed to be some animals there. We missed the animals but went to look for one more present when the kids spotted Santa Claus in the distance. So we went to go see him. The kids were super excited to see him. This was of course the line for pictures that all the malls have. We figured we'd let the kids see Santa from a distance for a little while and then continue on. As we started to turn around, ready to continue on, our little boy silently tried to hold back all his tears that were welling up to where he could hardly hold them back. He too wanted to see Santa. It was the saddest thing. We tried to explain to him the long line, and all that and he agreed with all we said but again, when we turned to continue on, his little face just turned into the saddest thing this mommy has ever seen from her boy. Broke our hearts. So of course we waited in line forever (not quite) and our kids got to see Santa Claus. They didn't care that is was merely a minute. Abigail didn't really care to see Santa. She didn't mind seeing him but it wasn't very important to her. But Nathan was thrilled. And you know what? Santa's favorite cookie is also Chocolate Chip! Just like Nathan. Who would have known? Isn't it sweet that he didn't go to see Santa to tell him what he wanted but to find out what Santa's favorite cookie is? I wish you could have seen his before and after faces. One broke my heart, the other one brought pure joy. It's wonderful how our children are tied to our hearts.
The love parents have for their children is one of the most wonderful things on this earth. We do it all for them. I will try to keep that in mind as we celebrate Christmas where we receive the Lord's only child as payment for our sins. All so that we can become His children because He loved us so much.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Favorites and Favorite Books

After realizing how much Nathan's favorites have changed from last year to this, I thought it would be neat to capture their yearly Christmas favorites. Join below and add yours if you'd like!

Nathan:
Favorite Song - the Grinch
Favorite Candy - German chocolates from Advent calendar
Favorite Cookie - Jam Thumbprints
Favorite Show - the Grinch who stole Christmas
Favorite Light Color - White
Favorite Tradition - Getting toys :)
Hot Cocoa or Tea - Cocoa
Marshmallows or Whipped Cream in your Cocoa - Whipped Cream
Fake Tree or Real - Real
Favorite Board Game - Candyland
Favorite Christmas Book - The Grinch (see a pattern?)
Favorite Tree Ornament - Angel Tree Topper
On My Wish List - Ironman Figurine (he's never even seen the movie!)

Abigail
Favorite Song - Jingle Bells
Favorite Candy - German chocolates from Grampy's tree decorations
Favorite Cookie - Grandma's sugar cookies
Favorite Show - Frosty the Snowman
Favorite Light Color - Blue, green, purple & pink
Favorite Tradition - Soup (???? I have no idea what that means...)
Hot Cocoa or Tea - Tea (the girl never drinks tea...)
Marshmallows or Whipped Cream in your Cocoa - Marshmallows
Fake Tree or Real - Fake. She wants a pink one.
Favorite Board Game - Chutes and Ladders
Favorite Christmas Book - 'Twas the Night before Christmas
Favorite Tree Ornament - Grampy's edible chocolate ornaments and snowman
On My Wish List - Santa Claus slippers and hat (these belong to daddy)

If you have little ones, here are some of our favorite Christmas reads:
Silent Night, Holy Night - Mohr/Dusikova, published by NorthSouth
The Story of Baby Jesus - Alice Joyce Davidson
How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Dr. Seuss
The Little Drummer Boy - Ezra Jack Keats
The Night Before Christmas - A Little Golden Book
A Churchmouse Christmas - Barbara Davoll
The Stable Where Jesus Was Born - Rhonda Gowler Greene
The Christmas Story, A Pop-up Book - Treasury Collection
Merry Christmas Songbook

Have a very, merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Funnies

Daddy: Nathan, no yelling please.
Nathan: I'm not trying to be loud, you're making me.

Mommy: Nathan, quieter please.
Nathan: I'm not really good at that.

Nathan: Abby, are you ready to do a major fight? (playtime)
Abby: I'm still doing my hair.

Nathan: Where is my lightsaber?
Mommy: I don't know.
Nathan: I found it! (in a deep voice) Now I can take care of Abby.

Abby: You're a cute mama!

Nathan: Do you want to play lightsabers with me?
Mommy: Sure. Where is your other lightsaber?
Nathan: Remember? It passed away.

Abigail: Green is my favorite color.
Mommy: I thought pink and purple were.
Abigail: All the colors are my favorite.

Mommy: Why are the board games all out?
Abigail thinking, then: 'Cause I wanted to play with you but you didn't come.

Abigail: Mommy, can I have new cereal? This one keeps making a mess.

Daddy: How did the airplane break?
Abigail (with pieces in hand): I don't know. Twig (our cat) did it.

Abigail to daddy: I'm Hailey and you are - (pause) - God!

Daddy joking after Abby was bad: Abby, give yourself a spanking.
Silence.
Abby wailing: I spanked myself!

Abigail who doesn't like her breakfast: But my tongue doesn't taste it very good.

Mommy: Abby, when did you go potty last?
Abigail proudly: This year!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giddy

I've been extremely giddy lately. Actually, today especially. Yes, Thanksgiving is very great and we are all looking forward to it. But that's not it. It's the day after Thanksgiving. No, Black Friday is not my thing. Shopping with crowds is just not that tempting. But here is what is: The day after Thanksgiving, my husband goes into our attic and gets all 18 of our Christmas decorating boxes (yes, I'm a bit obsessed). It starts my most favorite season of the year. This year the kids are just such great ages. Nathan loves to hear stories of our childhoods. So unwrapping all the decorations and telling him the meaning of them, will be so awesome. Everyone will pick decorations for their rooms and we'll all decorate together while Christmas music will finally play throughout the house. We'll light candles, have hot chocolate and sing songs. See why I'm so excited? This year the kids' eyes will fill with wonder as they are old enough. The other evening I went to run an errand with Abigail and it was dark outside. When the door opened, she stopped dead in her tracks as she saw our neighbors house all lit up with Christmas lights. It was great how much it excited her. Today they were fascinated by ice in our driveway. Nathan is still convinced the ice in the gutter of the road was glass because it broke when he stepped on it. I just can't wait for Friday and the whole time up until Christmas. It'll be glorious!

Here are some things we plan on doing with the kids that we are looking forward to:

Cut snowflakes out of paper. (this may be a challenge due to scissors and age of children...)
Sip hot chocolate.
Eat candy canes (maybe while we drink hot chocolate).
Watch great Christmas movies.
Make popcorn chains for grampy's tree.
Decorate pinecones with glitter glue.
Read bible stories.
Write Christmas cards and enclose drawings the kids have been working on.
Make straw star ornaments.
Go to the local live nativity.
Bake a variety of cookies.
Go to the local Christmas exposition.
Enjoy the multi-colored glow of Christmas lights in the dark.
Go for drives, sipping hot chocolate, and looking at the decorated houses in various neighborhoods.
Make handmade Christmas gifts.
Play boardgames.
Make pudding.
Bake something yummy for someone else.
Make a chain garland out of red and green craft paper.
Light candles.
Put up our manger scene.
Read Christmas books.
Start a Jesse tree.
Get a Christmas Tree and decorate it.
Pick a birthday present for Jesus from the Samaritan's Purse catalog.
Get some traditional German Christmas candies and enjoy them.
Hopefully visit old folks in a retirement home and give them coloring pages from the kids.
Bake and decorate sugar cookies with friends. (and of course eat them immediately)
Enjoy a piece of German candy every morning out of our Advent calendar. (I know what you are thinking! However, this is a Christmas season requirement for descendants of Germans. Christmas may not come if this custom is not dutifully adhered to. We are only doing this for you.)

You think we have enough days to do all this before Christmas is here? What are your favorite things to do during the upcoming season?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Breakfast Favorites

Fooled you with the picture below, uh? You thought we eat cake for breakfast? Well, sometimes we eat pie. More on that later. For now, here are two more pictures of Abigail's birthday. Below is the cake I made for her. She wanted a My Litte Pony cake and wanted it to be a carrot cake. Seriously, what little girl wants a carrot cake? I was proud. :-)


Below is what Nathan made for Abby. They are an owl family made out of tissue paper rolls. Got the idea from Frugal Family Fun Blog. You should check it out sometime, it's probably my favorite blog. He was really proud of it.


Breakfast. Finally! You wanted to read about food, right? For a while we actually stopped buying cereal (except for David who is, I'm afraid, uncurable). Then I got pregnant and getting up early to make breakfast lost its appeal. Anyways, here are some of our favorite breakfast recipes. They are all healthy and best of all, delicious! You'll notice that a lot of them are from Ellie Krieger. She's my favorite chef. She manages to make really healthy food that is very yummy. Some of her food is too far out there for me and I don't care for it. For the most part though, we (including kids and meat and potatoes husband) really like her recipes. Plus, her ingredients are usually pantry stables or easy to get.

Muesli Parfaits
Nathan's favorite. He will actually request this. We fight over them. I win; I'm bigger and stronger....for now. They are super easy, super tasty. The only thing to remember is that they have to be assembled the night before as they have to stay in the fridge for a while. Go here for the recipe.
Whole Wheat Pancakes
Adapted from this Ellie Krieger recipe. My kids like really dense pancakes rather than fluffy ones. These freeze really well and re-heat easily in the toaster. Just put parchment paper in between your pancakes so they don't stick to each other when you freeze them. They will be very dense. ;-)
Mix together:
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
In a separate bowl mix:
2 large eggs
1 cup 1 percent lowfat buttermilk (or put 1 TBSP lemon juice in a 1 cup measuring cup, then fill rest with milk and let stand 5 minutes and substitute that for buttermilk)
3/4 cup lowfat milk
2 tsp honey
Combine flour and egg mixtures. Spray a large non-stick griddle with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter per pancake int ot the pan. Flip when the pancake tops are covered with bubles and the edges look cooked, about 2 minutes. Cook until pancakes are golden brown and cooked through, and additional 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with real maple syrup or honey.
Individual Mini Apples Pies
What's better for breakfast you ask then fresh apple pie? Not much, right? Well, maybe the muesli parfaits. These take a little work ahead but you get a bunch of cakes and if you freeze them before baking, you can just pop them in the oven in the morning and your house will smell lovely. Plus, if you have little ones, these are perfect sizes. Click here for the fabulous recipe from Heavenly Homemaker. We like to do the muffin tin version.
Pumpkin Pancakes
My kids actually eat these although they are not really dense. Love these in the fall. Go to Parenting magazine's website here for the recipe. Serve with real maple syrup or honey.
Denver Frittata
David's favorite. It's a really yummy egg dish. This one, in our house at least, is a grown-up only. The kids just aren't eating the whole egg yet. Abby probably would but since Nathan has declared the "disgusting," she won't touch them. Thanks Nathan! Don't you love how one uttering of a sibling can undermine your months or years of hard work to grow a good eater? Anyways, go here to Parents magazine for the recipe.
Multi-grain Waffles
These also freeze really well, taste great and are good for you. Especially if you add some fruit on top! Go here.
Those would be our favorites. There are many more in my binder as I tend to collect recipes. But these are tried and true. Hope you'll try some and like them as much as we do.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Little Girl!

If Nathan hadn't already changed our lives forever, this little spitfire most certainly did. The hair says it all! Her personality matches it perfectly. She gets tons of attention because of it and she has the personality to go along with it. She's a ham for sure and loves to keep people entertained. She loves to sing and dance (daddy is most preferred here). She likes to color and sometimes to just quietly read with her Tag. She knows her letters and their sounds and can easily memorize any Veggie Tales song. She probably prefers french fries over ice cream. Her favorite colors are pink and purple and the pink worn-out bear and her lamby are never far away from her. She adores the kitties but hasn't learned the art of "gentle" yet. Loves her brother to death but sometimes can't figure out how to play with that wild child in a lady-like fashion. She'd probably rather sit than run like Nathan but that may be due to a recently discovered lack of iron (so much so that she'll have to be medicated). Abby likes anything girly, loves to dress-up, is very fond of hairclips and hats and as of late, strives to be a ballerina.


Abby-isms:
  • "So-o. (pause for dramatic effect)....."
  • "But I said..."
  • "You are the sweetest mommy"
  • "Nathan! No!"
  • "But I don't wanna go night-night" (every night....)
  • "Are you proud of me?"
  • "I want something to eat." (that is the most often heard phrase in our house right after "I love you')
  • "Can I listen to my music?" (that is the most often heard phrase during car rides)
  • "I'm not feeling good" (when asked to help do chores - at 2!!!)
  • "I hurt myself!"
  • "I'm just gonna get....(enter 50 toys of your choice here)" when asked to do something or go somewhere
  • "I love you" Abby is quite fond of that phrase. :-)


Always with bear and lamby


Quite the fashionista, uh?


It's not easy finding the right bucket to go with your outfit.


Donning Nathan's hat and glasses.

Yep, she's a girlie girl.

She's got the angry look down.


Here's a pouty look. Notice the inverted foot to underline the mood. She's good!


Happy little cute girl.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's Not Easy Being Darth Vader

You can't eat candy because your face mask doesn't have a mouth piece.

You keep tripping over your own feet because you have no peripheral vision with that mask.

Your lightsaber becomes a handicap when there are tons of kids walking around you.

The lightsaber from the costume store is a far cry from what you are used to.

You have to be very courteous to people even though you have the lightsaber because they, after all, hold the candy. And isn't that the ultimate force????

You are the scariest guy in the universe but the little pink lovebug by your side gets all the attention.

People don't give you the respect you deserve after they see you snuggle with your sister's lamb.











Friday, October 29, 2010

Someone Else's Pictures

We're visiting Grampy and Grandma tonight, much to the delight of the kids who have been stuck at home due to sickness. After the smell of fishsticks sent me running for another room (things are so unexpected with this pregnancy), I found myself in Grampy's office. Grampy's computer had some old pictures of the kids. Don't you just love older pictures you haven't seen for a while? Thought I'd share some:


Grampy doing what he loves best, having his grandkids in his lap. Abby is so little, it makes me laugh. This was when Cars shoes still outruled all super heroes.


Grampy delights in smiling babies.


Nathan's second Halloween. He's helping himself to Grampy's candy. Apparently it didn't take him long to figure out that if the candy transfers from the glass bowl to Elmo, then it becomes his. And another thing, what were we thinking with the frog costume???? Well, that was me. David is innocent.


I'd most likely would have bet this wasn't my child. Looks so different in this picture. With Grampy's glasses. At least he'd look really cute if he'd ever need glasses.


This was hilarious. Nathan didn't realize yet that people could see him through the chair. He thought that because he was hiding, no one would be able to see him. Of course Grampy played into that. :-)


Grampy and the kids have a real bond. We are very blessed to have a Grampy, a Grandma and an Oma. They all love their grandkids tremendously and they are a great blessing to us. One blessing of those thousands that come with grandparents are someone else's pictures.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sickos

The time of year for colds and runny noses has official arrived. Nathan tends to get sick with higher fevers. He usually starts out by acting out for a day or two. He won't listen very well and do things constantly that he knows he's not supposed to do. Then he'll start mentioning a sore throat and about two days after he starts acting up, he usually starts with a higher fever. His fever goes high very quick and it's not unusual for us to have to stagger acetaminophen and ibuprofen every 3 hours just to keep his fever below 102. This time around his fever stays at 101 as long as he keeps taking acetaminophen. The next day or two after fever he usually gets the other symptoms like runny nose and coughing. When the medicine runs out, he lays on the couch like a drop of water. David and I laugh how he just changes 20 minutes after he takes his medicine. Before he can't get up, is very quiet, doesn't want to eat or drink, just lays there. 20 minutes after taking medicine, he can be bouncing off the walls, literally. He is a very good sick kid though.
Abigail does NOT like being sick. She is VERY unhappy when she is sick. So most of the time, Nathan is thankfully sick by himself. I'm fully convinced that she refuses to get sick because she dislikes it so much. But she thoroughly enjoys the TV time they get when Nathan is sick. Since he doesn't have energy for much, they get to watch TV while he rests on the couch. Abby grabbed all the stuffed animals she could find and is sitting next to me, covered in a blanket and a gazillion stuffies.
To be perfectly honest, this time around, the sickness is kind of nice since my nausea puts me on the couch anyway. So Nathan, Abby and I get to spend the day together, reading books and watching TV and the kids are actually content being in the same spot for a while.
It's wonderful to get the little blessings in the midst of not feeling well. Warming blankets, hot tea to sip, a caring husband and most of all snuggeling with your kids on the couch for the day is just such a treat.

Friday, October 22, 2010

How Do I Love Thee?

I am married to a wonderful man. Let me explain. This pregnancy has been very hard on me just because there is all-day sickness that prevents this production-oriented woman from getting anything done. Many days are spent vegetating on the couch. This can get very hard for a woman who is again, results-oriented. My husband however, has just been wonderful to me. He encourages and reassures me, makes me realize that truly my body is working hard. You have to understand that our house looks like a bomb hit it. And I'm by no means exaggerating. The walls are still standing and the furniture is upright but everything else is everywhere. EVERYWHERE; except where it belongs of course. One room in our house has officially become a hazard zone. You may break something trying to navigate it. There is so much work to be done, it's exhausting just to think of it. Yet my husband comes in, sees the mess and tells me to go and relax! He's the one who keeps me sane. He's the one who keeps me focused on what's really important. I love my husband.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Siblings

The kids have just been so cute with the news of a new family member. For Abigail, it is hard to understand. One day, she wanted me to show her the baby in my tummy. When I told her that I couldn't, she bursted into tears. :-( She'll ask me on occasion now if the baby is still in my tummy. She would like a girl. She didn't give any reason, that's just what she'd like. Just like she isn't a princess, she's just Abigail. Or a birdie. Sometimes for grampy she might be an angel birdie. Because she isn't an angel (that's what she says, not I). :-)
Nathan is very excited. He wants a brother so he can wrestle with him. He'd be more than willing to share his room and would be excited about sleeping on the top of a bunk bed. He kisses my tummy often and tries to faithfully remember to say goodnight to the baby. He covers me with a blanket when I'm not feeling well and tries hard to take good care of me. He will ask me "Are you not feeling well?", "Are you tired?". His concern is so sweet. And to be honest, it was very unexpected. Never underestimate your children.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cravings

This is my first pregnancy where I have real noticable cravings. Along with the cravings come very strong dislikes. Often times the craving turns into a strong dislike by the time it takes to prepare it. :-) This makes things rather difficult. However, one constant I've noticed is that all the foods that are incredibly good and always seem appealing, are foods my mom used to eat (or still does for that matter). For example, a typical European slice of rustic bread with swiss cheese, sliced tomatoes and salt. Or cucumber-tomato salad with onions, cream, vinaigrette and loads of dill. Croisssants with swiss cheese. All so yummy right now. And whatever is good when I eat it, is REALLY good. That is the fun part. As someone who enjoys food, this is really a nice side effect (compared to the not-so-nice-side-effect of nausea).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Funnies

Abigail crying: "My tummy is hurting."
Mama: "I'm so sorry your tummy is upset."
Abigail: "No mommy, it's not mad."

Nathan to mommy after I gave him a heart: "That heart is for me because you love me really good."

David: "Winner, winner, chicken dinner."
Nathan: "Is that a nice tone to say that?"

Grampy and Nathan discussing where Nathan will live when he's grown-up.
Grampy: "I'll turn into Grampyman and pick-up your house and put it in my backyard."
Nathan: "We'll be Backyardigans!" (If you dont' understand this one, you don't have kids under 6.)

David retelling the above story.
Nathan: "Daddy is boasting!"

Nathan explaining to Daddy that he's decided to live close to us when he is older.
Nathan: "And I'll bring my kids over so you can see them. And you'll love them so much because they'll be so much prettier than you 'd ever thought."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

German Potato Soup

I wish I could say this was handed down from my great-grandmother but it is not so. :-) In a way it was handed down, my mother sent me the original cookbook the recipe is adapted from. It's a German pototo cookbook and it'll make your mouth water just seeing the pictures.
Since it is now officially fall, it obviously is a good time to post a recipe for a nice, comforting soup.
This serves about 4 people. You will need:
5 Idaho potatoes (very starchy potatoes that turn soft when you cook them), peeled and cubed
2 Leeks, rinsed thoroughly and cut into rings (use only white parts and some of the green)
1 Onion, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
pepper, salt and nutmeg to taste (preferably freshly grated nutmeg and pepper)

Let butter melt in medium high heat stock pot. Add onions and leek and let cook until they are translucent. Add potatoes and let cook another 5 minutes. Add milk and stock and bring to a boil. Cover and let cook for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Use immersion blender to puree soup. If the soup is too thick for you, you can add more stock and milk until you reach the right consistency. Add spices to taste. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Potter and the Clay

Nothing in life has brought me more to my knees and closer to God than motherhood. Nothing. Not even close. Sure, I've learned a lot being married. However, David and I had spent 5 blissful years together before we had kids. And I learned some things about God and his love for us. But let's face it, adversity is what really gets you down on your knees and reaching for God.
Motherhood has stripped me bare, showed me all those ugly selfish tendencies and pride inside of me I never knew existed. But the beautfiul thing that happens when we see those ugly sides of ourselves, is that God lovingly gives us a new heart, and puts a new spirit in us (Ezekiel 36:26). What better way to do this than through motherhood. When we are pushed to our limits, we cannot hide behind anything and our true self is exposed. Maybe even to us for the first time. But we are so motivated by love and the helplessness of our children. We can't walk away. We love them. It's so hard but we'll do it for them. Motherhood is a wonderful gift. Maybe much of it so because we see another part of our God, loving and patient, incredibly patient. I want to become more like Him and learn more about His kind of love: Patient and kind, not envy, not parade myself, not be puffed up, not behave rudely, not seek my own, not be provoked, think no evil, not rejoicing in iniquity, but to rejoice in the truth, to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, to endure all things. To never fail in love. (1 Cor 13:4-8)

"But now, O LORD,
You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our potter;
and all we are the work of Your hand."
Isaiah 64:8
"And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter;
so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make."
Jeremiah 18:4
"O house of Isreal, can I not do with you as this potter?" says the LORD. "Look, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Isreal!"
Jeremiah 18:6

Friday, September 17, 2010

More Babies

So we are expecting our third child. We are super excited and amazingly, so are the kids. We didn't expect them to understand but maybe little cousin Olive, who is only two months old, made them understand more. Nathan continually wants to kiss my belly ("the baby"). Abby is obsessed with all things baby now and plays with baby dolls all of a sudden. She lets me know that babies cry because they can't talk yet. Have to remember that one. :-) Both have been so kind to me and let me rest whenever it is needed. Although they have grown fond of listening to the same music CD at least 5 times a day. Insanity may come sooner than later...
This morning I showed them a caraway seed (we didn't have a sesame seed which is the size of our baby now at 5 weeks). Nathan gasped. He didn't expect that little of a thing. Quite cute.
Except for the usual tiredness and nausea, I'm very happy. Surely I will doubt my own sanity once in labor but as of right now, we are blissfully happy. My evenings are wonderfully spent by sitting with my amazing husband and knitting all things small and baby.
Overall, all things domestic have great appeal right now: Cooking, baking, knitting, finishing house projects (got my car cleaned and the swing repainted!), etc. Lots of thinking about the future and to be prepared. We are still trying to figure out what direction we want to take for Nathan for school next September. Private school or home schooling? We've started to teach the kids more independence and given them more responsibility. It's amazing how much little ones will pick up and do if you ask them! For example, Abigail will now make her own bed. What great little helpers!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My First Try With Natural Cleaners

I have officially started my quest to rid our house of uneccessary chemicals and to strive for a more frugal and simple approach. My first two success stories are vinegar and a lemon-baking soda paste.
The vinegar was used instead of a rinse aid in the dishwasher. After the first try there was no difference in my washed dishes. The glasses still had to be polished. Since the vinegar was already in the dishwasher rinse aid compartment, the next load got the same treatment. This time however I could totally see the difference. My glasses were not covered with the usual white film of the detergent. To be honest, there doesn't seem to be a difference to the rinse aid from the store. So we'll definitely be using vinegar instead of the spendy and chemically ladden rinse aid.
The other "dirt" in our house that has been bothering me for a while were black-ish scratchmarks in our white sink. Other cleaners didn't quite get it out. The baking soda and lemon juice (real lemon) paste did a fabulous job of bleaching and cleaning it with very little effort. I let the paste sit for at least 15 minutes and then scrubbed it just a little with the scrubby side of the sponge. Works great!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Little Victories

Strange things have been happening around here... The other day I made burritos for my kids and told them they could choose ingredients but had to pick 3. Here are the options: Refried beans, cheese, corn, cherry tomatoes, spinach (also known as "leaves" in our house), onions. It seems the obvious choice was the first three offered. However, my son looks at me and goes: "Beans, cheese and leaves." What???? Where was the choir of angels singing??? And then my ever so sweet little red-head goes: "Me too; leaves." I think it took me about an hour to regain consciouness but all burritos and leaves were eaten! Without complaints, mind you (that's another miracle in itself).
Yesterday we went to Grampy's house. This is TV, candy, chocolate milk heaven for my kids. They ask and they will receive. Since they don't get a lot of TV at our house, they will be clued to Grampy's TV watching WordWorld or mostly the Backyardigans. Grampy records those shows faithfully for them. So when he offered to turn a show on (this is the first clue: he had to offer it), my children politely declined and went on to play outside. What??? There are aliens somewhere that have my children. I'm sure of it. Nevertheless, both moments where very proud mommy moments for me. Little victories.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Simpler Life

Although I've always been drawn to old-fashioned life, with the downward spiral of the construction industry, we've embraced a much simpler life. This has affected most areas of our lives. To be honest, it has grown us much and we have reaped some very nice benefits from living this way. Life seems less stressful, more rewarding and more rich. I'm very proud of the many changes I've made in the kitchen alone. Made my first ever strawberry freezer jam (and we've probably got about two year's worth...), baked my first from scratch bread (it'll need some help but I'm hoping Karenpie can teach me.... :-) ), and made really healthy and tasty adjustments in our kitchen (which admittedly freak out David sometimes). Amazingly enough, it is not more expensive to live healthier if you just take time to plan. This has been the greatest reward, that we are healthier and spending less money. Sure, I still do purchase some items such as all-natural soap and spend a few extra dollars on those items. However, if you compare that to the price of children's shampoo which became obsolete with the new bar soap, then it actually does save money. There are a few choice items we spent a little more on. But with all the money saved in other areas, I do not feel bad about that at all.

My next step in this journey is to make homemade cleaners. They are both a frugal and safe. With two little ones in the house, that just makes sense. It seems to be a growing trend, so the internet is full with help on the subject. Hopefully the homemade cleaners will be just as good. I'm especially excited about laundry detergent since Abigail breaks out from the fragrance added to most commercial detergents. With making our own and adding natural fragrance, we can again have beautfiul smelling laundry! Below are a few links I've found that we might try in case you are interested in making your own as well. Also, check out the last link which is to karenpie's blog and in particular her fabulous receipe for healthy bread. This is the receipe I will try next.

Keeper of the Home - Basics for Frugal and Green Cleaning

Live Renewed - Clorox Wipes replacement

Live Renewed - Homemade Multipurpose Cleaner

Eco Diva - Hidden Talents of Olive Oil

Live Renewed - Homemade Laundry Detergent

Live Renewed - Homemade Dishwashing Detergent

Fabulussly Frugal - 40 Frugal Ways to Repurpose Household Items

Karenpie - Oatmeal Honey Wheat Bread

Also, you can replace bleach with oxygenated bleach. Can't find the link anymore for that. Get the one without fillers and only Sodium Percarbonate and Sodium Carbonate. Supposedly both are natural ingredients. My store brand which is at least $4 cheaper than the leading one, had just those two ingredients. The brand item had additional fillers and was more expensive. My store brand comes out to be $0.08 per load.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Engineering Feats and Music



My children seem to always focus on one particular subject at a time. They play with anything relating to it very intensely. Abigail's life revolves around music these days. She wakes up singing "You are my sunshine", literally. It's the first thing we hear through the baby monitor. How's that for waking up on the right side of the bed? Throughout the day she continually sings all kinds of songs. Currently she's really into the Backyardigans. That's a children's show Grampy really likes and so he has about 20 episodes taped for them. Abigail memorizes the songs very easily and has a small arsenal at her disposal by now. She doesn't discriminate against any genre of music. Unfortunate side-effect: You can't get the tune out of your head and just have to sing it!

Nathan has been really into building things. He'll really love LEGOs once he gets older. Or maybe now is the time? The other day he tried to make something that leans over but is held up by one of those green thingies you see in the picture. Thingy - aren't you impressed with my technical vocabulary? Anyways, he built the structure you see below and was just funny to me since his dad is a Structural Steel Detailer and is always into those kind of things. Genetics, eh?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My List of Things to Remember

This list is a reminder for me to check on a regular basis. It's simple stuff that for some reason always escapes me.

Nothing is done overnight
When Nathan was a baby, it seemed everything needed to be resolved overnight. As he started to grow and walk and then run, somehow that expectation was still there. When behavior problems set in as they do with toddlers, it finally came home for me. Everything with children takes time. It is a daily task.

Persistence is key
Little ones watch you for consistency. They will bounce off you and you need to give them that strong hold that keeps them in their boundaries. It is comforting to children to know what they are dealing with. Be insconsistent and you throw them for a loop and with that make parenting more frustrating for yourself. The sooner you start this, the easier it will be for yourself and your children. Be kind to them and be consistent.

Patience is a virtue
This is my hardest lesson. I still am very impatient although I've come a long way in this area. It gets hard to have the same conversations over and over. Or to make your toddler understand that you are in a hurry when they want to examine that rock on the ground. This area is where I wish I could really seize the moment more and realize that time is relative. Remember that patience is a fruit of the spirit. Fruits don't grow ripe overnight. You are a process.

Keep your children close by
Children need to be watched closely when they are young. Mothering is truly a full-time job. At the ages where mine are right now, some things have gotten easier. How can your day not be better if you actually sleep through the night???? However, other areas need more of your attention now. For my little ones, it is to continually watch their behavior, especially toward each other and to teach them tirelessly to be nice and loving toward each other. At times this seems overwhelming, especially when combined with the missing patience above. :-) I guess children learn by repetition. We are great at that! :-)

Talk to them about what you are doing
Children also learn by what you model them. Seeing what they are supposed to do helps tremendously. Recently I learned that it is an even more powerful tool if you actually explain what you are doing to your children. It took me 4 years to figure this one out! When you bring a gift to someone, don't just show them that. Involve them in picking out the gift and why you chose what you got, help them wrap it in a thoughtful way and then discuss why you are doing this for the receiver.

They love to help
Little ones are great helpers! And although you may think that things will go faster if you do it yourself, this is actually not true. I've found that many things go faster when I delegate. Such as having your four-year-old put away his socks. Yes, it may take HIM longer than it would take you, but it's a task off your list. Plus, the few tasks that take some oversight and teaching, they learn very fast. Go for it!

They love to learn
Teach them something new every day. This is really not as hard as you think. Have them help you cook, read them a book, do a craft. Nathan especially loves to learn from books. Get a DK series book for him and read it. Abigail loves to learn about stuff in the garden. Go out there with her. Teach them to read. Practice penmanship. It's easy and you can do it!

Nutrition is so very important
Their little bodies are just that - little. They are growing at such a rapid rate, it is important to fill them with the best you can give them. And what is a little junk for us, is a lot of junk to them. They are smaller than we are. Good nutrition doesn't have to be expensive. It just takes a little extra time and planning.

Enjoy them while they are little
Take time out of every busy day and love your children. Spend focused, quality time with them. They soak that up. Even just a few minutes of complete mommy focus energizes them tremendously. Color with them, cook with them, play in the castle, play with baby dolls, use your play kitchen. Love on your children. Little over four years have flown by. In just another year, Nathan will be off to school. Craziness.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Funnies

During our failed potty training try:
Abby, addressing an older man we've never met before, in line at Fred Meyer: "I went poopy in my pants and not in the potty." ....Yes, the old man was very uncomfortable...

Mommy to Abigail: "Stop yelling."
Abigail: "But that was Tinkerbell mommy!"

David and Nathan had a long talk over miscellaneous topics. When they were done, Nathan goes: "This has been great," and walks away.

After watching the movie "Pete's Dragon," Nathan was pretending to be Elliot the dragon. Explaining to his uncle Chris: "Ellios has stripes on his BIIIIGGG belly, it's even bigger than yours!"

Nathan: "I wanna say goodbye to daddy when my tears are gone."

Abigail (all happy): "I almost burped!" (Hopefully she'll loose that excitement...)

Daddy: "Hi Abigail."
Abigail, very serious: "Don't talk to me. I'm in time-out."

Abigail to Nathan: "Don't talk to me!"
Daddy to Abigail: "Be nice."
Abigail in her sweetest voice to Nathan: "What would you like, brother?"

Nathan to Abigail: "I love you."
Abigail to Nathan: "I love you too, buddy."

Daddy: "Over there is the Jungle Gym."
Nathan: "Who is Jumbo Jim?"

Monday, August 16, 2010

When He Gets That Feeling...

David and myself were quite amused seeing Nathan bust out his dance moves while listening to a live band. You can't hear the band very well. You can fast-forward through the middle of the video and see Nathan dance again toward the second part. I didn't know how to cut it better. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I Tricked Them!

And I'm proud of it too! I tricked my kids into drinking spinach smoothies. And they loved them. Well, I didn't exactly deceive them, I just put the smoothies in front of them and they drank them up. Didn't even question the new color. Told them afterwards they had spinach in their smoothies and Nathan simply goes: "What is spinach? Is that leaves?" After an affirmation, he simply went on with life.

Here's the recipe:

1/4 cup spinach leaves (fresh)
1/4 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
1/2 TBS honey
1/2 TBS real maple syrup (Nathan is really into having maple syrup and honey in the same dish)
1/2 cup milk (or more depending on how runny you want your smoothie to be)
1/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 banana (previously frozen)

Put all ingredients in your Magic Bullet or mixer and run the thing until everything is smooth. You should have a wonderfully tasty smoothie that is also very nutritious. And honestly, you can't even taste the spinach.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Simple Syrup With Lime Zest

This is great for any sweetened summer drink! Last week we tried this fabulous Sweet Basil Smoothie. It really sounds strange but it's very good. We have more basil than we can handle right now so this was a nice way to use some of it. The only adjustment we made was less syrup as it gets very sweet. The simple syrup for me personally was too sweet so I made another mix of ingredients and it was more to our liking.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
zest of 2 limes

Heat water and sugar on stove. Put zest of two limes into water mixture. Continue to heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Refridgerate for at least one hour. Mix with your favorite drinks instead of sweetener.

Friday, July 30, 2010

These pictures are part of the camping blog below. :-)


Airplane with daddy.


Happy child.


Scary Rugby Player...


More airplanes.


Marshmallows are messy but totally worth it.


Woodland fairy with her necklace, ring, bracelet and hair accessories.


Grampy visiting.

Cute children in the woods.


Our campground.

First Family Camping Trip

We love camping as a family. I mean LOVE it. It is such a bonding experience to be out together in nature, snuggeling together in a tent as a family. It's great. This was our first all family camping trip. Abigail had never actually slept in a tent and we were very worried about her sleeping. To our surprise, she went to sleep all by herself and although she couldn't sleep with all the noise around her, she laid in her bed quietly until mommy came to sleep with her. Does that happen??? Sigh, it was blissfull. We went for nature hikes (well, they were shorter hikes due to shorter legs), played at the playground, played soccer and frisbee on a nearby field, enjoyed night walks, campfires, campfood, a gazillion marshmallows, just as many millipedes (also known as lillypedes according to Abigail), and just good old-fashioned family time. My favorite moment during it all was waking up with Abigail in my arm. The girl opened her eyes and smiled the biggest smile at us! David and I both were smitten. Then she started smirking until we laughed and continued to make cute faces to keep us laughing. Other greats were Nathan playing rugby with me. It's quite scary to get tackled by a four-year old. He also walked me to the restroom at night so I wouldn't be scared. And of course watching my husband taking care of us all. At night I was really cold for some reason and he gave me some of his clothing and his blanket. Re-arranged the whole sleeping situation just so he could keep me warm and everyone else. He was going to give up his blanket for me! What a guy. Plus, he makes the absolutely perfect marshmallow. Definitely a keeper. And the kids are quite fond of him. That helps. :-) Here are some pictures of our first family camping trip.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Beautiful Creation

On a recent day trip we found this really beautiful spot close to our home. The scenery was just great. The weather was perfect. The company was beyond good. :-)