Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas and Snow Day!

 Most of my Christmas pictures leave a lot to be desired.  I didn't even take that many.  Frankly I took so many in Florida I'm about shuttered out, and besides, it has been a BUSY Christmas.  We went to Florida December 6-16 and I need to post about that soon.  I'm just tired.
 I tried for a picture under the tree, but the kids were excited and I didn't get a perfect one.
  I did get some funny ones.
 And this one is the best.  Ah, Merry Christmas!
 Sweet Pea did pose for me a little.  She is wearing the dress my mom made me and that both Rosebud and I wore our first two Christmases 

 #1 kept a fire going all Christmas day and it was quite cozy.  We did stockings when the kids first got up and then had the breakfast my aunt made for us every year growing up-egg bakes and monkey bread.  Like her, we also invited people who don't have family around here/weren't having anyone for Christmas.  We had four guests and it was fun.
 Around noon the last guest left and we opened presents.  Florida was our kids present this year, but they each got something under the tree to open.  Little Monkey Man got this computer-y thing (he played with it at a friend's house one day FOREVER and when I found it at Aldi I grabbed it up) and an empty plastic storage bin to keep his Legos in.
 Rosebud got this doll.  She ended up with a few dolls this Christmas, but she'll mother them all I'm sure!
 Snug got a Leapster2 that I snagged off of Craigslist and a new Leapster game.

I got a yoga mat and yoga mat carrier along with the last Harry Potter DVD.

Christmas Eve after the candle light service LMM couldn't go to sleep he was too excited.  He said he hoped there would be an orange in his stocking (its from a book he likes) and SNOW!  Well I could stick an orange in, but the snow?  Not in charge in that department.  However...
 When he woke up this morning he (and everyone else) was super excited.
 We got several inches of snow and played for about an hour in it.
 Our dogs LOVE snow.  They live for days like this.
It wasn't really packing snow, but it wasn't total powder either so we managed a little guy.

I'll post Florida pictures soon, first I'll get them on Facebook.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 24, 2012


I don't know if I've posted before on how we "do" Santa.  We're not perfect parents (by a LONG shot) nor perfect Christians (no one is), but when Snug was a baby we decided how we'd "do" Santa.
 Santa, The Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy (we've got a loose tooth here at the house!  First one!) are all cute.  Fun! Part of childhood.  But.  Take a moment to think with me.  If all of these childhood "heroes" turn out to be fakes...why isn't Jesus?  He's miraculous, he loves us, is with us, and we don't see him.  Obviously He isn't the same as make believe childhood icons, but to a six or seven year old who discovers these things aren't real, it stands to reason they could wonder if we're just making up Jesus to make them feel good or act a certain way.
 We want Jesus to be about a relationship-He is REAL.  God is real, and in this world that daily feeds my children the lie that He isn't...we are going to do our best to show them He is.  We talk about the blessings He's given, ways we see him moving in the world around us, and what Christmas really means.
However, that being said, we do Santa.  If the opportunity is there my kids sit on his lap.  Didn't happen this year and that's fine too.  But they know it is a nice man who is giving his time to make kids happy.  They also know about the real St. Nicholas way back and how the tradition started.  And Santa is a tradition.  Something fun, but not why we celebrate Christmas. We don't make them snub friendly old gentlemen in red suits.
They don't get gifts from Santa (although they are getting one from Mickey.  Who they also know isn't real.). We give gifts on Christmas because God gave us a gift that very first Christmas.  We don't give them because our kids were good or earned them in any way.  Santa isn't watching to see if they deserve them.  They get them because we love them and want to give our children good gifts because our Father in heaven has given us many blessings.
All that being said, our kids also know that many kids really truly believe in Santa and they know NOT to say anything to the kids at school or church.  We're trying to teach them to respect other people's feelings, and use it as an opportunity to share Jesus  If kids are talking about it we've just told them to tell them about the first Christmas-the true meaning of Christmas and not to debate Santa.
So, that's how we "do" Santa.  What do you do?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Precious Girl

Well this is it!  Her 12 month post.  This baby girl hit the big ONE!  Her birthday is today, but we celebrated Saturday with friends and family.  I wanted to do the same cupcake theme that we did with Rosebud.  I wanted it to be a little different, but wasn't sure what direction to go.  My mom asked if she could make a bib and when I saw it I was inspired.  I added buttons to the decor and it changed it just enough to be uniquely hers.   
 We had white chicken chili and salad for supper.  We have a big IKEA table that seats sixteen, but we needed more space so we made a "kids" table.
 This banner and the pom poms will hang in her room (when I get around to taking them down).  I didn't decorate our dining room for Christmas as I don't want all of her birthday pictures to have a Christmas theme in the background.
Birthday blowers always seem like a fun idea. It's a PARTY!!!   Till the party.  And then I hate them.  Until the next party when they look so cute and would be so fun!   
 This cake was not gluten free, and was the cake we served to the guests (a couple of the cupcakes were regular too)
This was her smash cake.  I made the buttons out of fondant.  I didn't take the fondant off, and she got one in her mouth and made a funny face till she could spit it out.  

She was pretty serious about the whole singing business.  

The cake pictures are out of order, but enjoy anyway.  There's the face.  She made it when she got through the icing to the cake too.  

 Sweet Pea is now 26 1/4" long (birth was 19.75') and 15.13 pounds (birth was 6.9).  She has EIGHT teeth, the 8th is a molar (or cuspid or whatever...its big and in the back) that came through today.
 Her new favorite food is CAKE!  She's still nursing but down to just a couple times a day.
 She loved presents.  Well, she loved the paper.  She is a paper-a-holic.  We may get her in a support group.  She's eaten the equivalent of War and Peace at least.  I swear she can spot a book or magazine or Sunday School paper a mile away and will eat as much of it as she can before we grab her up.
 It was her siblings that got the biggest kick out of her gifts.  They all FOUGHT (and are still fighting) over the use of this large talking-singing-ride-on dog.  She likes it too, but man you'd think it was real the way everyone goes on.  I'd worry about the cat getting jealous, but I think he's relieved to be out of the spotlight for the time being.
 She also got several cute outfits, including this Christmas tutu and sparkle shoes.  Rosebud was also in love with that, the boys...not so much.
Happy birthday Munchkin!  We love you very much.  From your serious stare to your belly laugh.  We pray that we will be an example to you of how much the Lord loves you and that we will continue to watch you grow and come to know Him.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A House Divided Cannot Lose

 Ah, the Michigan/Ohio State game. Just as much of a holiday at our house as any other.  We are certainly a house divided.  #1 grew up in the Buckeye State and has two little followers.  Little Monkey Man had a unit in preschool about Ohio where they brainwashed the students by teaching them "Hang on Sloopy" complete with the O H I O.  Sick.  He has taken on a little disciple in Rosebud who now says "Go Buckeyes" with gusto.  I've lost her.
However, Snug loves Michigan and proudly wore his old Michigan sweatshirt to school last week even though it was much too small.  My parents brought him a new one to wear for the game that should fit him for a couple more years!  Sweet Pea doesn't have an opinion on the matter yet, but she wore Michigan because well, if you drink "Michigan Milk" you're gonna wear Michigan wear.  I'm hoping to keep her on the good side.
 It is a friendly rivalry here.
 And even when we're rooting for two different teams in what can be an intense game we're still friends.
 It is a lot of fun.  Even when your team loses.  Ahem.
 Oh!  And we have special food.  We always have chicken wings and fries that #1 makes in the backyard.  We also have other finger foods.  This year I had yellow and blue M&Ms and buckeyes.
 Poor baby woke up from her nap in time to find out her team lost.  I know baby girl, I felt the same way.  She wore (but I didn't get a photo of) the Ohio State diaper that we bought for LMM back when he was a baby.  It is OSU on the outside and Michigan on the inside.  Interpret that how you want.
Somebody was happy with the outcome!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Family Closet

I am FINALLY getting this post up.  I've been really busy lately, and life...well, it certainly isn't ever going to slow down!  I had to take these pictures and them take the time to label them, so that took awhile.  If you can't read them, click them and they should get bigger.

I get asked ALL the time "how do you do (insert topic here) with FOUR KIDS?  Frankly I don't think four is all that many, and I look to friends/blogs where they have eight or more kids for inspiration on how to organize my four  :o)  A family closet is something I'd seen various places and we decided to give it a try.  I'm partly not blogging about it till now because I wanted to make sure it was something we would actually use.
#1 an I do not currently use the family closet.  We will in the future, but that is another story for another time.  
 Above is how the closet usually looks.  Ok, put a couple of laundry baskets and a mound of laundry (right now HUGE as our dryer is broken) in the front and it would be a little more accurate.  I put my best foot forward and moved the junk.
 The clothes rack that was in the front on the other picture rolls out of the way and can sit out when I'm hanging up clothes (see far right of picture).  It houses the boys' church and school clothes.  Right behind it is a smaller one for the girls.  Basically any pants/shirts hanging are not for painting in or playing in the yard.

Each kid has a shelf for play/everyday clothes.  Their stuff is where they can reach it (sans Sweet Pea) but so far only Snug is responsible enough not to dump the piles off while getting his clothes.

I know that on the far left and bottom are some funky things, my paint program messed up the picture but I refused to go back and redo all of the writing.  I have two rolling carts with drawers that I used in our old house that are now repurposed to hold tights/leggings/outgrown socks/Crocs/sun hats.
 The large wardrobe in the back is all of the kids off season dress clothes or dress clothes that they have outgrown/someone else is going to grow into.  On the far left is another hanging thing that houses the boys' church shoes at the top (their everyday/school shoes are in crates in their bedroom but I don't want church shoes scuffed up), #1's work/church shirts that I've pulled from the dryer, and a hanging organizer that I keep the kids' sweaters in.
 This is an up close view of a toy organizer that I'm using for socks and underwear.  The yellow and blue bins are boys/girls unmatched socks.  Clearly it is time to dump them out and pair them.  The kids help me with that.  They each have a bin for underwear and socks (Sweet Peas has her onesies).  There is also a bin for long underwear that this summer I think I'll put swimming suits in.  The green bin is for seasonal clothes that I don't necessarily want worn all the time, but don't want to forget when the time is right.  When Christmas is over I'll put in St. Patrick's Day shirts or Valentine's shirts or whatever I find in their bins*.  They all don't have clothes for all of those occasions, but if they do I want to make sure they are used.
Here's a closer look at their everyday clothes shelf.  I labeled two of them so you could get an idea of what is there.  The girls have sweatshirts on this shelf, the boys do not.  They have them in their room for easy access when they need another layer to play outside.  Note that there are not PJ's anywhere.  These are still kept in their bedrooms.  We just find it easier.

Why a family closet?  This works well for us because I am dragging quite a bit less laundry back up the stairs.  I simply pull it from the dryer and put it directly away.  I am saving LOTS of time.  Also, when the kids had clothing in their rooms they tended to root through it and make a mess.  I am pretty sure I was washing clean clothes all over again, and there was some clothing that never got worn.  Now everything is evenly rotated.

*I have bins for each gender/size at our house.  Take for example Rosebud.  She is wearing 18-24 month clothes.  In her bin are her summer clothes (that aren't for church, those are in the wardrobe).    We are very blessed by hand-me-downs and if I end up with several pairs of say, jeans, I'll keep back a couple of pairs in that size bin to ensure that Sweet Pea will have some without holes when it is her turn to wear that size.  We are sometime SO blessed by hand-me-downs that I end up passing on clothes in the size my kids are currently in to other people.  We also have families that we swap clothes with when our kids aren't using that particular size.

I have a few rules about clothing.  For the girls it must be modest, even though they are small.  My kids don't wear clothes with certain cartoon characters or slogans that we don't care for.  Another rule I have is when I put a size away, if it doesn't all fit in one plastic bin I have to sort through and get rid of some things.  I think this might change for Snug soon as his actual clothes take up more space, but for now I am careful to only keep what will fit in a bin.
 I also am careful to only keep a certain amount of certain clothes.  If you look at the picture above you'll see that Rosebud (bottom shelf) has eight long sleeved shirts.  I took these pictures when (most of) the laundry was done.  No little girl needs eight shirts, but I won't keep any more than that.  If I am given more I'll decide which ones we'd get the most use out of and pass on the rest (or keep one or two back in the bin so Sweet Pea has some without stains).
I shop Goodwill, clearance racks, and kids resale stores, but you have to be REALLY careful when you do this.  People tend to see a great price on a cute item and think "wow this will save us money!".  However if you already have, to use the above example, eight long sleeved shirts for that child, buying one more doesn't save you money, it is wasting money.  I carry a spreadsheet in my purse.  It tells me exactly what I have in each size starting with the size Sweet Pea or LMM are in up to two sizes above what Snug and Rosebud are in.  It includes EVERY article of clothing in the family closet and bins along with winter outerwear, shoes, and even snow boots.  I can glance at my chart and know if this pair of boys jeans in a size 7 with no holes in them is something we need or no.  If I have 6 pairs in the bin, it is a no.  If I have 2 it is a for sure YES!.  My spreadsheet is very specific.  As soon as I buy something or they get a box of hand-me-downs or a gift from grandparents I update the chart.  It is as easy as putting a tally mark in the appropriate box.  Having the permanent chart be very specific keeps the task of updating it easy and doable.  If it isn't easy and doable, you won't do it!!!

Wow, that was a long post. Hope that was informative for at least someone.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Trick or Treat & 11 Months

 So, this is late for a reason.  Our "Beggar's Night" was scheduled for October 30th, but due to horrible weather, it was rescheduled for Saturday.  I took (thankfully) pictures on actual Halloween because the kids wore their costumes to a party at church.  I figured that I'd take some trick-or-treating action shots and then post.  This was not to be.
 I bought Snug's Buzz Lightyear outfit two years ago for him to grow into.  I got it for a couple of bucks on clearance.  I made his wings, and hopefully it will fit LMM in a couple of years.
 Here's the whole gang.  We had a theme this year.
 Here's the "out of this world" shot.  I love that they are both smiling!
 Jessie and Woody were very happy to pose for pictures too!
 I made this Woody costume (bought the hat at a resale store) for Snug two years ago.  LMM was thrilled to grow into it.  My favorite part is there is a pull string on the back of the vest and he'd pull on it and declare "there's a snake in my boots!"  He also told nearly everyone we met trick or treating to "watch out for monsters" with a mischievous glint in his eye.
 Sometimes I get shots of the kids that make them look so much older than they are.
 Look who is smiling again!  I bought her outfit on Amazon as I found it way cheaper than I could have created it.  While I really love to make their outfits, I have to consider which way is more cost effective.
 I made Rosebud's Jessie outfit too.  I bought one that was a once piece thing similar to the Buzz costume at Once Upon A Child, but it was several sizes too big.  I cut it into pieces and sewed/glued/pinned it back together.  Her hat isn't the right color, but a friend gave it to us and it was fine. The boots where LMMs when he was two.  (To answer the question from an earlier post the Halloween "tree" in the background was made by my aunt!  We put it out every year, but the lights didn't work this year, very sad.)

So the rescheduled trick-or-treat night was Saturday.  When we set off the sky was cloudy and it was misting.  When it started to downpour #1 ran back home for the van to pick us up.  It was about 40 degrees.  I am SO glad I didn't wait to take pictures, they would have been miserable looking!

 11 months old.  CAN YOU BELIEVE IT???  And she was all smiles for her photoshoot today.
 I cannot decide which ones I'm going to order.  I have been taking most of her monthly pictures instead of getting them done professionally to save money.  However, I have been really careful to print (I use Mpix) what I would normally buy and hang them on our wall/give to grandparents.
 I am THRILLED THRILLED THRILLED to announce that...
 ...she GREW this month!  She is now 26 3/4" (a quarter inch longer, and yes we are meticulous about measurement) and 15lbs even (up half a pound!).  I am so excited about that.
She's still nursing, but learning to take a sippy cup of water and took some milk in one from the nursery workers today (she won't do that for mommy or daddy).  She eats less baby food and more table food each day.  She cruises the furniture at top speed, stands alone for minutes at a time, and thinks about taking steps.  She'll tentatively put a foot out...think for a moment...then get down and crawl.  She opens all the cupboards, empties anything she can tip, and SMILES more and more.  If you think I sound like I'm grinning with this month's're right!!!!!