Farewell Christmas! Hello 2012!

Goodbye Christmas, see you next year. And may I just say, good riddance? I love Christmas, but I also love seeing it go. I love how BIG my living room feels after I pack the tree up, I love how clean the house looks without piles of odds and ends everywhere.

Christmas this year was interesting for me. We had planned for almost six months to bring my brother and his wife down as a Christmas surprise for my mom. I had very big expectations for Christmas. All my girls with all my siblings and two of my bestest friends.
But, oh, the girls were sick! For weeks. And still are.
Cough, cough, cough.
No long cozy afternoon at my mom's...it was more like one hour of eating bites of delicious food in between puke buckets, and mopping up piles of goo. There was also a lot of tears and whiny children who just didn't feel good. We left my mom's house and went back to my house where we tucked all of our little sickos into bed, and then stared at the wall in a daze.
I had wanted Christmas to be "perfect" and do advent and make sure my girls were focused on Christ more than gifts. Turns out it was I who really needed the lesson. My perfect Christmas dreams were shattered as I wiped runny nose after runny nose. A constant reminder that Christmas isn't about fun and games and advent reading but about a perfect Saviour who came to an imperfect world.
His Holiness meeting our earthly sin and sickness.
As it turns out, Christmas was perfect after all.

And now the New Year is upon us, which in this house means lots of fruits and veggies to clean all of those Christmas carbs out of our system.

My only New Years Resolution is to keep reading through my Bible till I've read every single word. And I won't get there in a year, but that's okay.

What are your resolutions?

What we're up to: Told in Pictures

A whole lot of cute

A whole lot of busy

A little bit of baking

A lot of holidays

Some visiting

A little bit of decorating (and of course, admiring!)
A lot of playing with toys and animals
a whole lot of summer!

Painting squash and ourselves

Beware: If you do not like messes, quit reading now.

I don't mind messes too much. Crafting with the girls is okay and I expect there to be HUGE messes.

Brian just stays away, messy isn't his kind of thing.

I had seen online lots of tutorials about painting pumpkins, which for this stage in life seemed much more doable than carving them. The pumpkins were pricey at the grocery store so I bought about 8 little different squash and let the girls go crazy on them.

How do you feel about messy? yay or nay?

The baby of the house

Just a simple blog post to stretch my blogging muscles again.

A little bit of Lexi to brighten your day!

Just a quick note...for now.

Yes, we are alive and kicking! It's been months since I posted here due to Facebook invading my life, that's where most of my pictures and updates are. I remembered that there are a few people who don't use Facebook but do like to read my blog and see the zaney antics of my girls via this blog (I'm talking to you Nana Cantrell!)

Here's the run down:

Lexi, 22 months old. Her latest adventures include knocking down the Christmas tree, using my makeup brush to clean the toilet bowl, ripping her diaper off and streaking through the house with an amazing amount of toddler-ish energy. She is busy.

Abigail is busy with her usual stuff, saying the funniest things, wearing the coolest clothes, still sucking her thumb to fall asleep, and filling all of her coloring books with her beautiful coloring talent.
Elena is, as usual, practicing her Future Mommy skills. She likes to boss, help and clean. Her favorite word to write is GOD and she can't wait to start school again. She also tries to sneak and turn the Air Conditioner on whenever we're not looking.
That's all for now, and I'll try to update more but I'll need to find an extra 30 minutes to plop into our days in order to do so. Anyone have extra minutes laying around they can gift me for Christmas?


I didn't think so.

Butterflies for preschoolers


I think this craft is pretty self-explanatory, but just in case, here goes:

Coffee filters (we didn't have any, so we just cut round circles out of a crumpled piece of packing paper I found in one of my unpacked boxes. Yes, still a lot of unpacked boxes here.)
Clothes pins

Paint the circles with watercolors, allow to dry, then clip in the middle with a clothes pin. I used scotch tape to tape them to our playroom door, but I think these would make a cute mobile too. Hm....

Elena and a List (because I love lists)


Has it really been almost a month since my oldest turned six?


That's first grade. That's reading. That's maybe loosing a tooth. Tying shoelaces. Learning to ride a bike....


Why do they all just keep growing, and growing, and growing?



Here's a random little list of things I'm feeling very grateful for today:

1. The memories of birthday cupcakes with pink frosting. Sticky goodness everywhere!
2. A cloudy day with a hot cup of coffee in hand.
3. Watching our church grow and grow and grow.
4. Thankful for my husband who does all sorts of good, little everyday things for me such as, making coffee, letting me sleep in, doing the groceries, and not caring if the sink overflows with dishes.
5. Elena loving to do school.
6. Abbie's cute accent in Spanish
7. Lexi's face covered in Jell-O.
8. The sound of the fan humming
9. My iPod, my iPhone, my MacBook and our iMac. (I will really miss Steve Jobs.)
10. Our first chocolate panettone! The holiday season is very, very near!

Quick! Ten things your thankful for, GO!

Take them OUTSIDE.

What I remember most about my days with two babies was how long those days were. I was the sole source of...everything, for both of them, and it was beyond exhausting.
One of my solutions was to take them for very long walks.
I would put 5 month old Abbie in the Baby Bjorn, and grab 2 year old Elena by the hand, and we would be off.
We would walk for hours.
It gave them a chance to breathe fresh air and me a chance to talk to other adults. It would make their little legs tired and give me some exercise.
We would get home dusty, sweaty, but hey! It was dinner time, bath time and then bedtime! Another day finished: Woohoo!

Now, I feel like the days fly by, there's so much to do and yet, not much of it is getting done. So what happens is we all start snipping at each other. What's better? A clean kitchen and picky people or a sink full of dishes and happy people?

I try to choose the latter (but oh, how I love a clean kitchen!) and so many times, when I find that everyone is getting a bit clingy, grumbly, and droopy, we head outside.

For hours.

We drink terere with neighbors, we make new friends, we see a new bug, and we come home tired and happy.

I know it doesn't always really make sense, to leave the long to do lists behind, but it's so much better.

Seriously, grab some shoes and go outside.


Now vs. Then


Shoveling...that's what I'm doing these days. Shoveling my way out of laundry, diapers, and sticky messes. I find myself getting frustrated and wondering why it's not working like it used to. I remember when I had two kids I was able to keep the house fairly tidy, the children were bathed on a regular basis, I blogged daily, cooked a new recipe almost three times a week, and went to the gym every morning.

Why isn't it working now?

Finally, because I'm so slow sometimes, it dawned on me that things are so different now.

I have THREE kids, not TWO. The oldest wants to read, the middle one wants to play quietly with toys, the youngest wants to climb into the kitchen sink and hang from the rafters. So different then when I had two babies who's needs were basically the same.

Our church now is very young compared to the church we were in "way back then" which was more established.

I wasn't homeschooling then, I am now.

Why do I keep trying to squeeze my present into the past? It's only frustrating me and leaves me with a bigger pile of mental and physical "stuff" to shovel out of.

Thankfully, I know that my identity is not in a tidy house, and perfectly synchronized schedule. It's in Christ, who is so, so, so very patient with me.

I have to remind myself that going to the gym every morning, or three new meals a week are not eternal things.

So for now, I only cook food that don't require recipes. I don't blog as often. My house is a wreck because instead of cleaning it I take my three wiggly girls for a walk to meet our new neighbors and establish relationships.

So yeah, we eat lots of sandwiches, we take naps, we make messes, and pull out our clothes from large piles found on top of the dryer. We buy bread, we play PBSKids.org, and I haven't seen the inside of a gym in ages.

And those things are not eternal, but my girls souls are. So if I'm washing dishes and I notice one sulking, I leave the dishes and talk to Miss Pouty, give her the Gospel, pray with her, correct her and then move on to something else.

The dishes will get done, eventually.

And that, is where we're at NOW.

Open your face!

One of my little girls has the habit of frowning, she is very emotional and can turn on the tears just.like.that. We've talked about habits and we're working with her to overcome this. I want her to know I'm on her side and one of our key phrases with her is "Open your face!" meaning, stop scrunching it, lift those lips up into a smile! and no more whining! That little phrase usually keeps her from melting down into a puddle of tears over a broken cookie, lost toy, or misplaced shoe.

Yesterday, I had to keep telling myself to open my face.

I don't know what it was exactly but I just found myself feeling so ruffled. Two long weeks, little sleep at night, teething toddler...I wasn't sad, I wasn't grumpy, I wasn't mad...I was a mixture of all three and tried to hide it all morning.

Ah! But then Brian took me to a local greenhouse/plant store. It's not in town, so we drove a about 20 minutes on a long stretch of highway and pulled into a small, manicured jungle.

So glad I grabbed my camera.


All those plants made the air easier to breathe, the birds were everywhere and singing, bright colors surrounded us and I felt so much better.

We went back home with a few trees and bushes in the back of our car, and I for one, had an open face. :)

(This is Elena making what we call her "Daddy face.")

On todays agenda: Finish painting some shelves red for the girls playroom, bake chocolate chip cookies, have friends over for burgers, walk around the neighborhood and meet some neighbors, take Alice for a long walk at the park (done!), plant more grass in the backyard, find a local bookstore to buy cardboard for the girls chore chart, and, oh yeah...school with Elena.

I hope it to get it all done, if not, oh well. There's always tomorrow!

I've been spending a lot of time and creative energy on our photography business lately, I wanted to see and try it out. So far, I have to be honest, I'm really not liking it. We haven't had any jobs yet (it's only been three days since we launched) but I feel that my head is in another place. I spend so much time planning and thinking about what I would do for a newborn shoot, wedding shoot, etc that I end up giving my girl the tired, leftover, un-creative parts of me. Boring.
The good news is, I'm not in this photography thing alone. My friend will soon be back and take over almost everything, except photo editing which is my favorite thing of all. It truly is wonderful to have friends.
All that to say this: I refuse to give my creative energy to anyone but friends and family, for now. Some women have it in endless amounts and can spread it all over church, family, friends and complete strangers, but I just can't.

So, hello girls! How about we do some finger painting today?