He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young
. {Isaiah 40:11}

31 October 2012

Happy Halloween!

... and Reformation Day!
We have basically dropped off the planet in the virtual world and the real one.
With only three weeks till my due date I've turned rather inward and to top it off, there is a virus going around these parts that just won't leave! (Week three in our house by my count.)
However, we are still living and I have lots of goodies stored up to share with you once things settle down a little but for today I will keep it simple and share the cuteness because, seriously, who doesn't love three munchkins dressed as garden gnomes! 
 well... cuteness and a little awkwardness...
 Enjoy Your Night!

19 October 2012

Props to the Men in My Life

Since we finally seem to be recovering from the N.A.S.T.Y. cold that took over our household (save for the sinus headache I'm dealing with) I have been getting a lot done!
That said... today is short and sweet but something that just must be said...
I have been blessed beyond measure by the men in my life 
and that was an unavoidable fact this week.

My dear husband loves his family well. 
I married my best friend. 
We spend most of our time laughing. 
I can only pray that our girls find men that make them laugh the way he makes me.
My kids could not have a better dad. 
He's not afraid to be silly and a beautiful example of a firm and loving hand. 

He's an example of what his boys ought to be towards their future wives... 
and what his daughters ought to look for in their future husbands.  
I could fill a book with the things that make him amazing.

Then there's my dad... 
He, without a doubt, loves our kids.
He will, without hesitation, drop what he's doing to spend time with them... pick them up from school... take them out to lunch... take a bike ride... sit and talk with them...

And my father-in-law...

He doesn't get to be with the kids as often as he'd like but he makes up for it when he's around.

And I can't forget CJ... 

He may not be a man yet but this boy is an amazing son...

and THE BEST big brother.

None of these guys are perfect.
None of them always get it right.
None of them fix all the problems of our little world but they are heroes in my book and I just thought you should know that.

17 October 2012

Painting Pumpkins

A couple of weeks ago we had the kids pick out pumpkins from a local produce stand and since then those pumpkins have been begging to be "kid-ified".

Since our munchkins are so small I knew that pumpkin carving would fall to me and that's not exactly what I was going for so I headed to Michael's and picked up a handful of fun tempera paints and preschool friendly brushes and let the kids have at 'em.

Thankfully it was beautiful outside and they could make all the mess they liked as Opa and his equipment gently hummed in the background (more on that soon).
They both got really into it and I loved what they came up with which basically just means a trippy blob of mess.
 Hope you're enjoying the season!

16 October 2012

Photo Book for the Kids

Just a month ago I was at a wonderful friend's house in Michigan where Miss Mak and I saw a "brag book" full of pictures of the kids which was FOR the kids. Mak loved it and spent much of her time walking around with it.

I don't know if it was intentionally given to the kids or not but I know that the kids sure seemed to like it.
My guys like looking at pictures of themselves and people they know too so once I realized how cheaply I could get one together for our home it was a no-brainer for me.

$1.99 - I bought an inexpensive brag book from Target but I'm sure I could have found one at the dollar store if I had looked.
$4.81 - I printed 37 pictures from Costco at 13 cents a piece.
$6.80 - Total paid
Since I only had room for 36 pictures (37 including the cover picture) I was picky about the ones I included and was sure to pick a variety of people and things they know and recognize. Things like...
- Grandpanents
- Great Grandparents
- Our House
- Hubs and I (then and now)
- Individual pictures of us with the kids
- Pictures of the kids together at different ages...
And most importantly...the kids, especially Miss Mak (almost 3 years old), love looking at it!
Happy Tuesday!

13 October 2012

Here's An Idea...

... buy a snow shovel on the cheap early next spring and use it in the living room. 
Up Side: At the very least, I could easily slide the mess into an unseen corner or behind the couch.
Down Side: I'd eventualy have to pick that mess up...

Oh well.
It was a thought. 

11 October 2012

Fall... and What I DON'T Love About It

As a lifelong New Englander, Autumn is, by far, my favorite season.

The fall that I love features opening the door and breathing in the crisp cool morning air, knit sweaters, wool socks, steaming mugs of apple cider and cider donuts, rich vibrant colors of maple leaves and asters, footballs watched with hot stew in hand, and the early sunsets that invite our family inside and under blankets together...
oh yeah...
and for the fall I'm actually living with right now...
It involves things like runny noses, nagging coughs, and an mountain of tissues stacked knee high in the trash....
Yeah... that's where we find ourselves these days.

Miss Mak and Bean have been dealing with coughs that snuck in very quietly on Sunday morning, dropped like bombs on Monday, and haven't let up yet.
Last night was possibly our worst night in the history of "us"...
16 month old Bean began coughing at 12:57 and it didn't relent until well after 2.
Of course, as soon as Bean's cough gave up, Miss Mak woke on the hour every hour wanting me to get her water for her and various other things that are kept WITHIN INCHES OF HER FACE EVERY NIGHT!!

Basically, what these little ladies have is a bad case of post nasal drip which means that there isn't a whole heck of a lot we can do for them. Suppressing the cough may be counter productive since it's working everything out and keeping it loose. Drugs aren't an option because 1. there two small for anything strong and 2. the boogies are clear as can be so there's no infections.
<double cough!>
We have done everything we can think of to do... and that was the point of this whole explanation to begin with...
I wanted to share with you some of the smart, interesting, and downright silly things that I have heard of and some things I've actually been trying just to get these girls the rest their little bodies need.

1. Homemade vaporub under their noses, on their chests, and slathered on their feet.
2. Humidifier running constantly with hydrogen peroxide in the water and eucalyptus oil in the tray.
3. Sitting in the bathroom with the hot water running until the steam clears our their noses.
4. Spoonfuls of honey and grated fresh ginger.
5. Using a aspirator to suck the loose stuff out after number 3.
6. Saline squirts in the nose to dry out the passages a little.
7. Rocking in the rocking chair upright for a period to get everything draining.
8. Trying to get to sleep while propped up with copious amounts of pillows and holding a child over my 34 week preggo belly. {Won't be doing this one again.}
9. Here's where it gets a big weird... placing a bowl of freshly diced onion on the side table. {I heard it works and after days of nasty coughs I've decided to try just about anything.}
10. Placing some of that diced onion between the two layers of socks on their feet.
11. Praying a lot... which I want to add a side note to this one... I am in constant prayer when our babies are sick. CONSTANT. In the past my usual prayer goes something like this...

"Dear Heavenly Father, please stop these coughs so [insert child's name here] can get the rest that they need. Please allow their bodies to do exactly what you've created them to do and if keeping them under the weather is your plan, please, please, PLEASE change the plan! Sincerely yours..." 

Last night, for the first time that I am aware, I opted to go an unusual route which didn't involved asking for healing at all. Instead it was something more like... 

"Dear Father, Thank you for the beautiful babes you have put into our care. Thank you for the many uncounted days that they are normally healthy. Thank you for being sovereign and having a plan for this very day before there was even time. Your mercies are new every morning and your goodness continues through all generations. Amen." 

I say all of that to tell you that not only did I finally fall asleep shortly after {or was it during} this prayer, but I also felt a sincere peace about what was going on by focusing on the big picture of God's goodness to our family rather than the finite moment of this frustration and worry. 

All this is said whilst our sweet girls continue to cough, gag, and hack as they try to nap.
Praying you dodge this in your home! 
Happy Thursday!

10 October 2012

08 October 2012

America's Cheapest Family

Without giving too much boring detail, I'll just tell you that Hubs and I have been looking for ways to pinch our pennies these days...
With a small student loan, two more years of a car loan, sub par savings account, a rapidly growing family, and hopes for making upgrades in our new house we have decided to prioritize for real.
Don't get me wrong, we have been trying to slim the budget for a while now but every day life manages to sneak in surprise expenses like the one just last week to fix the setting on my engagement ring because the prongs weren't looking so hot and I was afraid of losing a diamond. Cha-Ching!

So anyway... several of my searches for a better budget led me to the same place...

I've included the link above but I just headed down to the local library. (The Economides would have been proud!)

This baby is full of ideas, some brilliant, others wise, and a few seemed downright crazy but in the long run doing some silly things (like bringing a crockpot on vacation to heat dinner in the bathroom during the day) doesn't seem so bad when you think about how much money you're saving per meal and renovations that brand new kitchen at home you worked so hard to pay for. 

Just thought I'd share. 
Happy Monday!

04 October 2012

Schoolwork on the Mind Without Losing Yours

Problem... Too much to remember...

I have no idea if I mentioned to you all or not that our family has officially taken the first step into homeschooling.
CJ still attends preschool two days at a Christian School, mostly for the friendships and time to himself without his sisters and me.
We also started him in a one day a week program called Classical Conversations (CC). So far, we LOVE it! We've opted to follow the Classical Model with our homeschooling and CC fits right in.
I won't go into all the reasons we've chose the Classical Model here but would be glad to share if you ever want to know.

Anyway... the main work for the elementary ages in the Classical Model is pure memorization. I mean in ALL subjects be it math, science, history, Latin... it's ALL memorization.
That means we have a lot to keep track of over the 24 weeks of material we have to learn and without it front and center I struggled to remember the work.

I headed to our local Christmas Tree Shop (Michaels and Walmart should carry them too) and grabbed a plastic poster frame for about $6.
I framed a piece of fabric I had lying around, not ironed as you can may have noticed...
and, using a dry erase marker, wrote this week's memory work.

We put it up in our dining room across from where Hubs and I sit so we remember to quiz CJ regularly.
Hubs and I agree that this was one of the smartest things we could have done to keep schoolwork on the front burner in our busy home.

02 October 2012

Painting Nails with Toddlers

Miss Mak is a girly girl to say the least.
This morning she asked to have her nails painted...
Of course Bean wanted in.
I obliged...
and quickly realized that there are a few good things to stick with when toddler nail painting...

Stick with sheers and "barely-there" colors for this age. Few things look consistently strange to me the way "adult" nail colors look on kids do. I put a super pale pink on Bean and immediately hated it. It was too much for her tiny toes and opted for a sheer instead.

Save yourself by only offering colors you're actually okay with. Thankfully Mak only likes the clear polish with pink sparkles. I let her pick it out while shopping one day which she loved. The sparkle one is an easy one to put on and I highly recommend a clear coat over top to keep the sparkles from being picked off when you aren't looking.

You don't have to paint EVERY nail. Miss Mak still sucks her thumb when she sleeps and the idea of nail polish in her mouth just grosses me out so we skipped her preferred digit.

Drying can be a pain if you have a fidgety kiddo.  Keeping the colors sheer helps with a quick drying time. If you've opted for a thicker color or your munchkin is super antsy, I hear you can dip their nails in cold water for three minutes and it will seal your work.

Make a "thing" of it. Both Mak and Bean seemed to enjoy watching Mommy do her nails (I HATE when I talk in third person!). I look forward to when the girls are a bit older, making a big "to-do" of being girly (watching a girly movie, putting weird stuff in your hear to make it smoother, using homemade facial masks) ... not because I want them to get caught up in aesthetics but because sometimes doing a little something extra can make you feel feminine and I want them to know the value of making yourself appealing to your husband. Thankfully, I have LOADS of time before we get to that part so for now, we paint.

Happy Tuesday, Ladies!


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