Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Birthday Fun!

I love helping the kids celebrate their birthdays. It's so much fun! And I've learned it doesn't take much to make the whole day special for the birthday boy or girl. Here's the play by play of Mari's 4th birthday.
M woke up to birthday fun - a table filled with presents!
And a new bike!She had a special breakfast of chocolate donuts and strawberry shortcake rolls. She called the rolls, "strawberry tacos," and she was thrilled to blow out the candles!She got to choose her first present to open - a gift from Aunt Kari, Uncle John and Jennifer.Each year they have sent a collectible, according the girls' ages. M was so excited to get another bear - this one holding four little bears! My sweet M is 4 years old already.
Then the phone started to ring. She got birthday calls from Uncle Jim, Grandpa, and even the Toys R Us giraffe, Geoffery!
After getting dressed, she was allowed to open 4 more presents. M doesn't tear into packages. She likes to take her time and enjoy the moment. She's the same way with eating food. This girl knows how to make the most out of life.
We had a special lunch that I knew M would really love - PIZZA! This is the first time the girls ate Bagel Bites, and they loved them! M thought the little circles were so cool.

Then we got to enjoy birthday cake. M really wanted a cookie cake. She helped me push the candles into the cookie, and was so giddy while I was lighting them.

After we sang Happy Birthday, she took a deep breath and blew them all out. Way to go M! You got them all in one breath!More presents to open after naptime.I don't think my girls will ever get tired of dress-up clothes. Thanks Grandma, Grandpa, Timothy, and Nana!Then we headed out to Chick-fil-A for an early dinner, because Dad had a special night planned for his birthday girl. POPCORN and a MOVIE! The girls had a blast. It's so special that they are the best of friends and love being together. Thanks Dad for the perfect ending to a very special 4th birthday for our M.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Guest Blog: Andy, Daddy
Happy 4th Birthday, my little M,

I'm at work right now thinking about you. You should just be stirring around this morning, and I'm sure Mom has the house decked out for you with banners and gifts, and a special birthday breakfast. I can't wait to see you. Later on today we're going to have cake and open lots of presents and then take you to eat and play at Chic Fil A. And then tonight I'm going to make you some homemade popcorn, and we can watch a special movie together (and snuggle up close).

M, I absolutely adore you. God has made you so special, and unique. You're very different from your siblings. You love to make people laugh by saying funny things and acting goofy. Very cute. And you love to get tickled. You're very ticklish on your knees (horsey bite corn!). I love your sense of humor, and I hope and pray that you keep it. It's important in life to not take yourself too seriously, but to relax and have fun. No matter what you're going through, it will be easier if you make the choice to smile, find the humor in any situation, laugh, and make others laugh. Life is an awesome adventure; have a blast!

And you're very smart. You speak clearly and have a large vocabulary already. You began talking at a very early age. I remember that it was the hardest thing for you to learn how to make the "K" sound. You used to say cute things like "titty tat" (kitty cat). But you've grown, and now you have no problem saying anything. And that's the way life is going to be for you, I'm sure. Like everyone, you will face struggles, and problems, and roadblocks. But if you just keep growing, and trying, and never give up, you will conquer anything life throws your way.

M, your mother and I are dedicated to being the best parents we can be for you. That's why your mother has chosen to be a stay-at-home mother. For you. That's why we're going to homeschool you. It's because we want the very best for you. Our biggest goal for you is that you would come to trust in Jesus Christ at a very early age, like your mother in me. Your mother was about 7, and I was about 10. And because we trusted in Christ at an early age, life has been awesome. He helped us have fun in school. He helped us excel in school and athletics. He helped us to stay healthy and to stay out of trouble. He helped us to get scholarships in college. He helped us to stay pure and save ourselves for marriage. He helped us to find each other. He helped us to find our purpose in life. And He gave us you - our precious M. If you trust in Christ, He will take care of you and help you live the best life possible.

It's my prayer that we would best friends for life, M. I want you to always be able to trust me, to be able to tell me anything. I want us to have a blast together. And I want to help you fulfill your potential. Most of all, I want to help to find your purpose in life early on, so that as soon as possible you can begin heading full speed toward God's destiny for you. I know God has great things in store for you. I know He will use you to accomplish great things. Just keep Him first. I love you M. You're precious to me. And I will do anything to protect you, provide for you, and set you up for a successful life. If you ever need anything, even if it's just someone to talk to, cry with, or have fun with, I'm always there for you. Always. Happy birthday. May this day be the best birthday yet!


Andy and M

Monday, December 29, 2008


196. That's the number of boards that make up the kids' new playset. 196. And how many of these boards come labeled? Well, all of them have a "label" meaning that all of them are referred to by a letter of the alphabet (almost 3 times through.) But none of them actually come labeled.

No, that would be my job. Before you can even think about starting to build, you have to analyze and measure each board and correctly label it. And be careful because some of the boards are exactly the same (same width, same pre-drilled holes in the exact same places) except for a difference of half an inch in length. And that half an inch is HUGE when it comes to putting the playset together.

So today was a very tedious day. I had 196 boards to anazlyze and match according to pages similar to the one below. But not only did I get all the boards organized, I labeled and set out the hardware as well! We are ready to begin building Wednesday morning!I really wish I would have captured all my work on film, but I've been too busy to take pictures. There's no room in the garage for cars - it's completely full of cedar, hardware, tools, and parts. All organized, though. I'm excited, except for the fact that my garage smells like one big hamster cage.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

More Christmas Gifts

Christmas day was so much fun. We laughed and laughed and laughed. Everything seemed to be funny. Opening presents is always so much fun.

Here's J getting into her special box from Aunt Joan. Oh, what's that on top? A recorder. Yes, the favorite musical instrument of all children. I was delighted when our previous one recently broke. Wow Aunt Joan, do you hate me? Do you know what pleasant sound I hear every morning? TOOT TOOT! No honestly, I love it. I love that the girls have so much fun making music. J went to town on her new recorder.
And here's M showing off her new outfit. The girls love getting new clothes, and they got lots this year. At one point M started tossing me all her new clothes so I could fold them. As she tossed she said, "And here's my new pretty shirt. And this is another pretty shirt. And I really like this pretty shirt."

The girls checking out the playset from Nana. There was no way for us to put it up before Christmas, and keep it a surprise. So we printed out pictures of the playset and taped them to the box. Then we covered the box with a tarp and added a giant red bow. The girls were thrilled to finally pull the tarp off and see what was under it. What fun!
The adults waited until after the kids were in bed to open their gifts. And we decided to go in order by age, starting with Nana. She's a hoot. Jim and Kara got her an amazing Coach wallet. It's gorgeous and a true treat for Nana. #1 - She would never splurge on such a nice item. #2 - She would never splurge on a new wallet for herself. Yes, the one she has is falling apart (and has been doing so for a couple years), but it still works, somewhat. But what was really funny was that Jim and Kara placed an ornament at the top of the bag. I'm not sure, but it was probably last minute. An afterthought. A little extra they found to place at the top of the bag. But my Mom went nuts! She oohed and awed over the little ball. She was so thrilled with it. We laughed and laughed, all the while waiting for her to get to the real gift. Goes to show you, it doesn't take much to impress a tight-wade.
And here's me opening some new perfume. Sorry for the spread eagle look, but as you notice the baby has taken over leg area and something had to give. But the real fun came when my Mom realized the blooper she made. For quite some time she has worn this perfume that I love. So she got me a bottle for Christmas. I was so thrilled I put some on immediately. Yum Yum, love it! So Andy said, "Hey. I want to smell you. (sniff sniff) Oh yeah, Mrs.Rita. I recognize that. She smells like you." My Mom said, "Oh no" as she put the pieces together. Then she said, "I'm so sorry Andy. It's probably not a good idea that your wife smell like your mother-in-law." Then she spilled the beans by announcing to Jim, "And it's certainly not good that your wife is going to smell like your mommy. I'm so sorry guys. I didn't even think about it!" We laughed and laughed. But I'm still wearing my perfume. And good thing, Andy loves it too!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


The girls got a playhouse for Christmas! Thanks Uncle Jim and Aunt Kara! We spent some time Christmas day putting the playhouse together. The girls were so excited, continually asking, "Can we go play? Can we go play in it now?"

I lucked out and got a pretty easy job. "Here Lyd. Hold these." Uncle Jim didn't fare so well. He was the man in charge, and quickly learned this playhouse is intended for children's use only. No that's not a window he's crawling through.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Lunch

Praise God! Christmas lunch was a success!! I'm still not sure how we pulled it off, but it was wonderful. All my lists, and flow charts, and scheduling paid off. (Who puts a menu and schedule on the fridge that details what time what food gets cooked at what temperature? Me and my anal-self. But I get it honest from Mom. She did it to me.)
The menu:
Fried turkey
Cajun Stuffing
Casseroles - sweet potato, green bean, asparagus, broccoli
Orange Salad
Cranberry sauce
Cranberry relish
Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pecan Pie - which we didn't even get around to eating!

Andy wasn't afraid to load up his plate.

We even enjoyed live entertainment. The plan was for the girls to eat their lunch on the back patio while the adults (and A and JimJim) enjoyed a peaceful, leisurely lunch inside. I explained to the girls that I didn't want them to bother us. When they finished eating, they could play until I came to get them for naptime. I explained the consequence - if they came to the door while we were eating, I would go ahead and put them down for nap. They clearly understood.

At one point during lunch my Mom started laughing to the point of crying. I couldn't imagine what she was laughing at. Then she pointed outside. Yes, little J needed to potty. She certainly didn't want to approach the door for fear of having to go take a nap. So she proceeded to strip her bottoms. She took off her shoes and pants and panties. She spread 'em wide, did her "do", and dressed herself once again. Who can match that Christmas dinner entertainment?!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Here are a few pictures from this year's attempt at the kids' Christmas photo. We took LOTS. Andy and I both had cameras going at the same time. The girls had a blast posing and smiling, but A had no clue what was going on. He didn't seem to be too thrilled with the situation.

Andy does a great job of making the girls laugh and have lots of fun.

But it doesn't always last. This picture was taken immediately after the above picture.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

TV Time

I'm preparing for Christmas. We're stuck at home this year. The only traveling I will be doing is to the hospital. So this is the first year I will be preparing Christmas lunch. I'm really looking forward to it and having lots of fun preparing. I think it will all be great! But I'm not so naive to be 100% sure of my cooking abilities. If something could go wrong, it just might. Isn't that what holidays are for? Don't fret family, we won't go hungry. I've got PB&J on backup.

But adding a major event on top of my regular daily duties, not to mention the bowling ball I'm carrying around, something had to give. With a couple days of extreme cold weather limiting the outside fun, I admit it; I needed help. So out came the TV. The girls rarely get to watch TV. It's so exciting for them, they like to get as close as possible. The girls are already loving holiday time with the best free entertainer.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Kitchen Helper

Introducing J, my famous Tuesday night Kitchen Helper. The girls each have one night a week when they help me with dinner. Tuesday is J's night - Chili Night! My Home Group meets on Tuesday nights so we eat dinner early, and I have to leave shortly after eating. Chili makes for an easy one pot meal that cooks quickly and is super easy clean up. And chili is something J can be really hands on. Dump the cans of beans in the pot and stir them together. (I'm so thankful for a family favorite that is so simple.)

While the chili is heating on the stove, J prepares bowls of Fritos and A's pre-dinner. Pre-dinner is food that keeps him occupied until after Andy or I finish eating and can feed him dinner.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Filthy Fun

So what happens when 3 little girls go outside after breakfast and experience true free play until lunchtime? Lots of fun and lots of filth! They LOVE being outside, and I really love that they love being outside. It's amazing what I can get accomplished when they are occupied with filthy fun.

They played so well they got Cheetos and a Twinkie for lunch as a special thank you from Mom. It pays to play well around here.