Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Best Present

It's disheartening to start off your Monday morning with the news that someone you knew and really liked died unexpectedly, but that's how my Monday started.  My oh-so-observant daughters noticed that I was not too cheerful that morning, so I told them simply that I was sad because someone that we knew in Oregon had died on Christmas Eve, and I knew how sad his family must be.  They agreed instantly that that was really sad, but just as quickly asked, "Did he love God?"  I answered, "Yes, he did", and their faces lit up with smiles.

Jaela:  "Oh, Mommy!  That is the best Christmas present EVER!"  
And Macey finished the thought:  "To get to die on Christmas Eve and see Jesus for Christmas!"

There was a short pause while we all thought about it for a minute, with smiles on our faces, and then:

Macey:  "Mommy, I think I'd like to die on Christmas morning, but I'd like to wait until I'm grown up first...because I really like the things I get in my stocking!"

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Spoonful of Sugar

Isaak's growing collection of little trucks, cars, airplanes, and helicopters is my spoonful of sugar that makes all that Pepto-Bismol-pink dancing around my house a little easier to swallow!  :)

Isaak loves his little Tonka trucks, and his sisters got him more for Christmas, so he got a play-rug with roads and constructions sites with his Christmas money from Great-Grandpa.  There's even a spot for his helicopters to land!

Pass the Pepto-Bismol!

The kids got Christmas money from my Grandpa, and it didn't take them long to figure out what they wanted to spend it on!  The girls chose pink dance skirts and pink tights, and had enough money left over to get pink leotards too.  That's a LOT of pink!  (Does anyone remember how I feel about pink?  Yeah, too much pink, and I get nauseated!)  

Jaela got Anya a play crown and jewelry set for Christmas, and Macey and Jaela decided they each wanted one too, so they spent some of their Birthday money and got themselves crown sets, too.  

Jaela got Macey a little wooden Nutcracker figurine for Christmas, and Jaela and Anya decided they each wanted one too, so they spent some of their piggy bank money and bought themselves little wooden Nutcracker figurines.  Isaak, not to be left out, decided (quite loudly) that HE should have one too, so his sisters pitched in and bought him one, too.  Now we're all set to dance The Nutcracker...ad nauseum!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas in Tennesee

The whispering upstairs started around 6:30 this morning, and I'll admit it, I couldn't stay in bed any longer either.  :)  So, I got up and lit the fireplace and turned on the Christmas tree lights, then told the girls they could come down, even though it wasn't 7:00 yet.  Isaak was happy to see me that early, too.  The girls were thrilled with the contents of their stockings, and Isaak was too, although he would have been content with just the animal crackers and goldfish that were in his.  :)
The girls happily took turns tearing into their packages, but Isaak, well, he wasn't really even interested!  He'd tear a little bit of paper when we told him to, but he'd wander away as soon as any part of the gift inside showed (with a few exceptions, of course!).  It was pretty amusing.  Eventually we got impatient waiting for him, and the girls "helped" him opened up the packages they had wrapped up for him.  Once the treasures inside were revealed, he got possessive very quickly!  Anya tried to play with him (with new little trucks on his new road carpet) and he'd shriek and grab away any truck she picked up.  I told him he had to share ONE with her, and for him to pick one for her to play with...one by one, he picked them up and generously gave them to her...ALL of them!  :)  

We had a turkey dinner, and Mark and Mary (our favorite neighbors) came over and shared it with us.  They brought gifts for each of the kids.  I opened one too, for all of us to share, and after they went home, we spent the rest of the afternoon watching Mary Poppins.  :)

Isaak went to bed an hour early, the girls went to bed on time, and I am going to bed early too!

Merry Christmas!  :)

3:06 am - Christmas Morning!

I told the girls last night that they couldn't come downstairs this morning until their clock said 7:00.

3:06 a.m.  Anya came into my room, whispering, "Mommy, is it after 7:00 yet?"

Do you remember that feeling?  :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

We're NOT Vegetarians

Jaela, Macey and Anya worked together and made dinner tonight (ok, I helped too).  They made their favorite Crunchy Chicken With Bones.  We were almost done eating when Anya asked:

A: (contemplating her almost-bare drumstick bone)  Mommy, what do they do with the blood?
Me:  What do you mean?
A: The people who sell the chickens to the store...do they squeeze the blood out first?
Me:  I don't know.  (I don't think I've ever thought about it!)  Maybe the blood just cooks with the meat.
J:  Yeah, I think that's what happens, because blood got into the milk when we were making it, so I know there was blood still in it.

About five minutes later, after Jaela and Macey had already left the table, Anya announced, "Mommy, another word for chicken-with-bones is drumsticks.  Well, some people call it that."

Yes, Anya, most people call them drumsticks...and I doubt that they wonder much about what happens to the blood.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Closet Space

After Isaak dumped the contents of my shoe rack onto the floor, I decided that maybe it was time to clean out my closet.  I've spent the last year (since we got home from Alabama) sorting, consolidating and re-organizing every closet and every room in the house, and I never even thought about tackling MY closet.

But this week, tackle it I did!  I made myself some mental guidelines and dove into the project.  I got rid of:
*anything that was stained, stretched out, or worn out
*styles that were too young 
*shirts that were low-necked, sheer, or not long enough
*things that just "weren't ME" (even if they WERE cashmere!)
*shoes that were uncomfortably tight (even if they WERE Clarks!)

I sorted through my bookshelves recently too, and got rid of a small pile of beloved books, the premise being that if I wouldn't allow my children to read them when they get older, then they have no business being on my shelves.  As a parent, I should lead by example!  That same idea contributed to my clothes-sorting guidelines.  

To begin with, we humans (especially we Americans) could get by with a lot less stuff.  (Time to clean OUT the closet, not just straighten it!)  We (our family) live on a comfortable income, and can afford to buy new clothes IF and when we really need them.  (Good-bye, stained, stretched out, worn out old t-shirts -- I can always wear one of Mike's t-shirts when I mow the lawn!)  I am 32 years old, and a mother of four.  (Isn't it time to dress my age?  Well, at least not wear clothes meant for teenagers...)  I am trying to teach my girls what is and what isn't modest, and good examples are hard to find.  (I shouldn't be able to point to my OWN closet for the bad examples!)  And yes, I am addicted to cashmere (anything cashmere!) and Clarks brand shoes, and I will freely admit it.  (But that doesn't mean I should wear unflattering colors or styles and walk around in too-tight shoes!)

Now to convince Isaak that my shoes and shoe rack are not toys...

25 Days of Christmas at Our House - Part 3


Day 20 - Where are the Christmas coasters?
(Ask Isaak...)

Day 21 - Christmas Cards

Day 22 - Our Advent Calendar
(We did it backwards this year so Anya could easily figure out how many days are left.)
Only 3 days left!

Day 23 - O Little Town of Bethlehem...and The Nutcracker!

Day 24 - Happy Christmas Eve!

Day 25 - Merry Christmas!
(Miry Crmesmes!)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Adopt-A-Snowman


No, this isn't our snowman, but we want to adopt him!  Our weather in TN today was sunny, clear, and breezy, with a high of 68˚ -- I had the windows open!

The weather at Mom and Dad's though, was significantly less pleasant, and they've gotten about 8 inches of snow -- enough for my cousin, who is visiting, to make a snowman!  I think it's the cutest snowman I've ever seen.  When I showed this picture to the girls, they wanted to know who made it...

Me: My cousin made it.
Anya:  It's cute, Mommy!
Macey: How old is your cousin?
Me: Older than me :)
Jaela: Then why is he playing in the snow if he's a grown-up?
(They've obviously forgotten our last snowfall...)
Me: Maybe because he's still a little kid inside.
Jaela:  He's got a little KID inside him?!?!?

Don't we all?!?  :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fair Warning: Poetry Ahead!

You who know me well, know that I have not ever been a big fan of poetry.  (Shakespeare's plays don't count.)  :)

Maybe I just wasn't reading the right poetry.

Batter my Heart, Three-Personed God 
by John Donne 1573 - 1631  
Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you  
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;  
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend  
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.  
I, like an usurped town to another due,  
Labor to admit to you, but oh, to no end;  
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,  
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.  
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov├ęd fain  
But am betrothed unto your enemy;  
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again;  
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,  
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,  
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The First Time

It happens all too frequently in this household.  I will give the girls instructions to do something, and more often than not, they will choose the most time consuming, difficult method to accomplish the task.  When I ask them afterward if there was another, easier way they could have done it, they usually say "Yes, but I didn't think of that at first!"  To which I respond, "Well, use your brain!"  For some reason, they think that is hilarious...

Tonight after dinner, I asked Macey to wash her hands and empty the dishwasher.  She responded that she had to go to the bathroom first, and then she would do it.  So, after her hands were washed and she had begun to empty the dishwasher, I asked if she had flushed the toilet and turned off the light.

Macey: "Oh, no!  I forgot!  But I'll go do it as soon as I finish emptying the dishwasher, so I don't have to wash my hands again and make more work for myself."  A pause...then, excitedly, "Mommy, this is the first time I am using my brain!"

Ah!  That explains a lot!  :)

25 Days of Christmas at Our House - Part 2


Day 13 - Candles, lots of candles.  Peppermint scented :)

Day 14 - More reading of Christmas books.

Day 15 - Packages on the front porch  :)


Day 17 - Watching The Nutcracker

Day 18 - Christmas Cards

Day 19 - Library Hour
(Everyone reading Christmas books - except Mommy...I got ESPN magazine!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Cheerful Heart is Good Medicine

Proverbs tells us that a cheerful heart is good medicine.  Anya is proof!  :)  Throughout the entire yucky sickness experience, she has remained cheerful (unlike the rest of us!), and she seems to be bouncing back to normal faster than any of us.

When Anya got to the dry-heaving stage in the middle of the night last night, she asked why nothing was coming up.  I told her it was because she had already thrown up all she had in her tummy, and there was nothing left in there.  "Well," she said cheerfully, "nothing except bones and blood!"

I stand corrected.  :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Choosing Thankfulness Part 2

I guess I wasn't thankful enough on Tuesday.

This morning I was thankful that Isaak came and got in my lap before he got sick (AGAIN) and I only had to do laundry and take another shower instead of cleaning carpet and leather couches.  And I guess I can be thankful that I can put off facing the PX and commissary for a little while longer, too.  :)

This evening, I'm thankful for a good friend who is bringing me some groceries.

And once again, I'm thankful for flushable toilets.
I'm thankful for Lysol and paper towels.
I'm thankful for hot water and shampoo.
I'm thankful for Anya's cheerful spirit.
I'm thankful for Jaela and Macey's helpfulness.
I'm thankful for towels, buckets, and a four-year-old who knows how to use them.

Later in the evening:
I am also thankful for a seven-year-old who can run fast.
I am thankful for a surplus of buckets, blankets, and towels.
I am thankful to be prepared.

It's STILL all in the attitude!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Choosing Thankfulness

It is after 1:00 in the morning.

I am thankful for baby monitors.
I am thankful for that different sounding cry.
I am thankful for a 19 month old who STILL stays in his bed until we come get him.
I am thankful for a strong stomach.
I am thankful for a good hot water heater.
I am thankful for girls who are sound sleepers.
I am thankful for extra pajamas, mattress pads, sheets, and blankets.
I am thankful for toilets that flush.
I am thankful for my washing machine.

I am thankful for more extra sheets and blankets.
I am thankful for toilets that flush.
I am thankful for the stop and start option on my washing machine.

I am thankful for still more extra pajamas and sheets.
I am thankful for toilets that flush.
I am thankful for flower-scented hand soap.

It's all in the attitude.  

A Different Perspective

I love fall.  I love watching the leaves change colors, and I love how they blanket the ground as they fall.  But for me, there is always a growing sense of dread that comes along with the thrill of fall.  When fall is here, winter is just around the corner, and I am not a big fan of winter.  I don't like being cold, I don't like how dark it stays all day, and I don't like how black, bare and stark the tree branches look against the grey wintry sky.

But thanks to my cousin Jodie, I am looking at those bare trees from a different perspective these days.  She pointed out to me this fall that "those trees shade us in the summer, but drop all their leaves and give us glorious, happy light in the winter."

While I am busy complaining about the ugliness those fallen leaves have left us with, that beautiful, weak wintry light is shining right through those bare branches, since there are no leaves left to block its rays.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Imitator

Isaak likes to set the table, because that's what he sees the rest of us do.  When the girls sit down at the school table to do schoolwork, Isaak climbs up into a chair and sits down to color.  If someone is reading a book, he goes and gets one of his books to look at.  Last week, he opened the door to the garage, just like everyone else is capable of doing.  He's seen us go down the stairs sliding our hands along the banister, so when he scoots down the stairs (backwards), he slides his hand along the baseboard, just like the people he admires most!

As I watched him navigate down the stairs the other day, Ephesians 5:1 popped into my head.  (OK, the verse popped into my head; I had to go look up the reference!)  "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children."  

Isaak is always watching us, the big people in his life.  He sees how we do things, and how we say things.  He is learning from our examples!  How much more should we, then, be imitating God!

Isaak has learned so much already from us, and now I am learning from his example.  Imitating God is not a once-in-a-while deal, or a when-I-feel-like-it kind of thing.  It is a watch-Him-constantly and always-do-our-best-to-copy-Him in every area of our lives kind of thing!

And it's so simple, a 19 month old can do it!  :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Through a Child's Eyes

"Mommy, look!  Even the grass is decorated for Christmas!"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

On Heroes...


(click on the picture to enlarge)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

25 Days of Christmas at Our House

I am borrowing an idea from a stranger.  :)  

Her version: post one picture a day (and link to her blog, for all the world to see) of what Christmas looks like at your house, from now until Christmas.  My version:  This will be the only post I do (and you're the only ones who will see it), but I will come back and add a picture every day, because I really like the idea of chronicling pieces of Christmas at our house...in pictures.  :)

Because I REALLY like taking pictures!  :)

Day 1 - Decorating the Tree

Day 2 - Baby-friendly Nativity 
(because Baby Jesus should NOT be off-limits!)

Day 3 - Stockings and a Decorated Mantel
(because candles SHOULD be off-limits!)  :)

Day 4 - Elfie 
(He hides somewhere new every day.)
Click here for the story behind Elfie

Day 5 - Christmas Scenes by Macey
(started showing up on all of my walls after the tree was decorated...even in closets!)



Day 7 - Imaginations at Work
(Isaak took the picture...don't ask!)  :)

Day 8 - Christmas in the Dollhouse

Day 9 - Playing with Food
(frowned upon, but when I saw what Macey had done, I HAD to take a picture)
The mini-bread became a manger, turkey and cheese became Baby Jesus and a blanket, and two carrots became Joseph and Mary (who is wrapped in a cheese robe).

Day 10 - Nativity Tree
(decorated this year by Anya)

Day 11 - "Snuggy" Christmas blankets
(Perfect to share when you're ALL sick!)

Day 12 - Reading Christmas books

Beautiful Music

Listen to the beautiful music I heard coming from the girls' room tonight:

"The glory of the Lord shone bright around him [Moses], and the Lord said, 'I am God and I am a merciful God, gracious and slow to anger, and filled with a steadfast love.  Yet those who have sinned shall suffer for it, and their sins shall be visited upon the generations.  Behold!  I will make a covenant with you today.  Obey me and you shall see the work that God will do for Israel.  Other nations will be driven before you and you shall possess the land of Canaan.  You shall break down the altars of the Canaanites and destroy the idols of all other peoples who worship false gods!  You shall win a great and terrible victory, if only you are faithful to me.  Now, write down my laws once more, and keep them as I intend!'  So Moses wrote down the Ten Commandments again, and brought them to his people."

(Jaela was reading aloud to Anya from one of their Bible Storybooks.  The only word she stumbled over was "Commandments"!)

Monday, December 1, 2008

O, Christmas Tree!

The day after Thanksgiving, the girls talked me into getting out the Christmas stuff a little earlier than usual.  We set up our nativity sets, hung up the stockings and decorated everything except for the tree (because we didn't have one!).  

We usually get a live tree, and then Mike takes care of everything -- he trims the trunk, gets the tree level in the stand, cuts any stray branches, fills the stand with water, puts on the lights... I wasn't looking forward to doing all that in addition to finding, bringing home, and wrestling with a live tree this year on my own, with four kids in tow.  

OK, I was dreading it!  

Have I mentioned how much we LOVE our neighbors?  :)  They called last week and offered me one of their artificial trees.  I was seriously considering having the kids make a tree out of their handprints cut out of green construction paper, so I think it is fair to say that Mark and Mary might have just saved our Christmas!  Well, maybe not our whole Christmas, but at the very least they saved our tradition of decorating the tree!

While the kids finished eating lunch, I set up the tree.  During nap time I put the lights on (I have gained a new appreciation for Mike doing it every year!), and I had enough time to put up some lighted garlands on the front porch, too.  After the girls got up, we put the ornaments on the tree while Isaak finished his nap.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!