Sunday, December 26, 2010

Advent Wreath

When I was a little girl I remember there was a fire alarm in my 1st grade bathroom. I was always so worried that it would go off while I was in there that I became super fast at using the bathroom. That has come in handy now because no one can accuse me of dawdling in there like a typical woman does.

I seem to have passed this fear down to A too. She is afraid of fire drills because they are loud and come out of nowhere. She begs to go to school even when she is sick, but if she knows it's almost time for a surprise fire drill she'll say she doesn't want to go. A's class also has a fire alarm in the bathroom and so she just tries to avoid using the bathroom at school and just waits until she gets home.

They read a book called Pet Heroes in the school library. It's a collection of true stories about pets who have saved their owners by alerting them to dangers or protecting them from other animals. She loved it because of the stories about dogs and we bought it at the book fair, but she wants me to skip the pages that have to do with fire.


We've been lighting the advent candle wreath on Sundays at our home. Amelia has been quite frightened of it and is always ready to blow the candles out. She doesn't want our home to catch on fire since we don't have any pets to save us. We were having this conversation about the advent wreath the other night:

A: Mommy, I don't want the candles lit, it's not safe.
M: Baby, we just have to be careful and it's perfectly safe. You know, before electricity, people used candles all the time to light up their houses at night.
A: Really?
K: Yeah, they couldn't just flip the switch to turn on a light. They had to carry candles and be careful with them.
A: Wow.
(then Hubby and I started getting nostalgic)
M: Yeah, and when we were kids we didn't have the internet
K: or cell phones
M: or even cordless phones in the house
A: Whoa! What did you do, use cans and string?


And at the Christmas Eve service, this was the first year that A was too old for the nursery and so she stayed with us. She was very concerned about us lighting all those candles and you can tell here she's not super happy.



 
G seems to have no hesitations around fire though, as we caught him climbing up on the altar and blowing out the church's wreath.
 
 
And the rest of Christmas Eve...


Is it a family law that children must not be cooperative when it comes to Christmas pictures by the tree when you are in a hurry to get to church on time? At least A has got the hang of it.
 
And our family picture try...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gift Giving

I was in Toys R Us the other day and saw a sign advertising their "Wish List Registry". It's billed as a great way to let others know what your child really wants this Christmas. You can register your child's wants and even update as a gift is received or make changes online.  Something didn't sit right with me as I read the sign. I can't say it's not convenient, but it made me wonder what a strange thing gift-giving is nowadays.

Why do we even give gifts at Christmas? Isn't gift-giving a way to show someone we love and care about them, to see a need or desire they have and to fill it with a gift?

How do we go about picking out gifts? Surely Mary did not register Jesus for Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. We must know someone well if we want to pick out a good gift for them, their tastes, their needs, etc.

I'm sure you've been given a gift that you didn't want, need, or like. What are your options then? You can take it back to the store, sell it, give it away, or just add it to the closet.

So you don't want YOUR gift to someone else to go unappreciated, but then, how do you pick a gift for someone when you aren't sure what they need or desire? Well we even have handy dandy gift cards to stores where the recipient can even pick out whatever they want, you just pick the store. Or should you just send cash because then they can pick any store. What if they wanted to give a gift to you? Should they just send you some cash too? And if you send them the same amount, is that considered 're-gifting'?

Where do we draw the line here? We could just start transferring money electronically to people's bank accounts instead of sending a card too!

Don't get me wrong, I love getting gifts and gift cards from loved ones. Really. I really like them. I also love that people will ask me what kind of things I'd like, and that is all fine and good. But I just feel like we are loosing the whole point of gift-giving when it becomes obligatory.

Long ago God gave us a gift. Wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. It was perfect, exactly what we always wanted and needed, a SAVIOR!

But many people didn't think they really needed a savior. The religious elite of the day were hoping for a Savior, but this wasn't the messiah they'd registered for. They wanted a refund or to exchange for a savior who would save them from political oppression, not from the oppression of their own sin.

God is standing at your door and offering you Jesus. Now what do you do? You can't take Jesus back to the stable for a refund or exchange but you can reject the gift and never know the peace he'd bring into your life. Another option is to accept him as a gift and then just keep him in the closet. Basically smiling through your teeth saying, 'oh! what I've always wanted' and then putting him away and still you miss out on forgiveness and His peace.

OR you can wholeheartedly realize what a gift has been given to you, accept this gift of forgiveness, wearing it like a garment everyday. You can enjoy the peace that comes in knowing that no matter what happens in this world, your future with Him is sure. It's up to you what you do with the gift that is offered to you.

It's been some time ago that I accepted God's gift. It is THE most important thing in my life and I would be a totally different person without Him. I don't usually use my blog to encourage people to consider Jesus, But this is on my mind and if you haven't accepted this gift I am praying that you would, but it's your choice to make. If you'd like to know more about how to accept His gift, you can ask me personally or find out more at: http://www.ccci.org/how-to-know-god/would-you-like-to-know-god-personally/index.htm

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Kids fighting

For the span of a week or so I got all Holiday Homemakerish and went on a baking spree. A and I made a Gingerbread house together (purchased last year for 1.99!)


Then I decided since I had icing I might as well make sugar cutout cookies for her ballet class because I was bringing a snack. And Amelia helped me with some of them, putting flour on the counter and cutting them out to cook. She had her hands all in my flour jar and was having a fun time playing and so I let her play and she was making a bit of a mess. Then I thought, well, she's had her hands all in the flour I don't really want to keep that flour anymore.

So I put the rest of the flour in two containers and sent both the kids into the backyard and told them to have a flour fight. After they recovered from their shock (Are you serious mom?!) they grabbed handfuls of flour and went for it.

 Poor A was downwind, so she got the brunt of the fight.

 But they had lots of fun
 and got lots of messy
 and I got lots of Christmas goodies out of it all. The house only lasted a day or so since the kids were eying it all the time and all the goodies on it.
 
 Smells like Christmas goodies here!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Baby Shower Cake-Fondant Bow

More Cake lessons! I used the leftover fondant from the Toy Story Party to make a shower cake. It was easy to just roll it out, cut long strips and form them into a bow. For the curly ones I wrapped them around the end of a wooden spoon to give it a curly shape. Fun and easy!


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Toy Story Birthday Party under $130


I love planning the kids' birthday party. Since it's just one party for both of them we don't spend a fortune on two parties in the same month. In fact, we try to be really economical. We plan the party for an afternoon so that we aren't serving a meal, so that they can invite more friends. If we had it around dinnertime we'd have to limit the amount of people we have. 

Invitations:  I like to use my digital scrapbooking software to make all kinds of things so I made an invite for the kids party as a 4x6 project and printed them out as photos for less than $2 total.


Games: The Toy Story birthday party started at 3pm and once all the kids arrived we started our first game. It was a "Gold Nugget Hunt". I'd spray painted some rocks a metallic gold and Hubby hid them in the volleyball court. The kids had a blast looking for the 'gold'. 


Our second game was "Bullseye's Horseshoes" and a few kids really got into this game.

After cake the kids went outside to play our last game, the Buzz Lightyear shooting gallery. I found some water guns on clearance after the summer and so each person got to take home a gun with them. I think they were $1 for a four pack. For the game they had to line up and shoot as many cups off the table as they could, and of course some kids were more concerned with shooting each other.

Cost for Games:  $8 for horseshoes and waterguns, plus some for the cups, but I think I had those at home. Had my daughter collect rocks from the yard and had a little gold spraypaint in the garage.

Decorations: I borrowed a banner and hanging decorations from a friend and I used some tablecloths and streamers I'd had left from other parties. I purchased some Toy Story plates to match the theme, some primary colored balloons, and a pack of Punch Out Table Decorations from Hallmark/Party Express and so I only spent about $15 on decorations, pretty good!
 





Food:  This is generally where a birthday party budget gets out of hand, but since our party was 3-5 we just had snacks. I got apples, bananas, pretzels, crackers, chips, salsa and some sodas and Capri Suns. I labeled a container of Green Gatorade as Alien Juice. Cost: $25

Goodie Bags: I was really excited about the goodie bags too. I found some fun things to include that the kids enjoyed but weren't too expensive. I put in bubbles (.25 each), a toy story bandaid, a ring for the girls and a sheriff badge for the boys, a door hanger (from the paper pack), and toy story stickers. I did splurge and let A get Toy Story silly bands for everyone. They were $1 a pack, for a little pack of just 6 bands! But she loves things so much and they were pretty cute packs. My favorite bargain in the bags was the Toy Story pencil. I got those back in February after Valentine's day. There was a pack of Valentines that came with 16 pencils for a buck. I just used some standard goodie bags and tied them up with ribbon and a cutout from the paper pack.

Cost for the Goodie Bags: $40, so about $2.50 per person

The Cake: Now, I love planning the party, figuring out the theme and making the invitations, but my favorite part is making the cake. After the Dora and Diego last year I decided that using a cake pan to make Buzz or Woody wasn't a good idea for this theme. After searching online I found a couple of people who'd made a bed, but the ones that used buttercream frosting just didn't look right. The others used fondant and made the blanket look awesome, but I never used fondant before. But I figured this was a good chance to give it a try.

First I made a 9x13 cake and cut the top off so it would lay flat. I used a wooden cutting board as the base because I thought it would look like hardwood floors of a bedroom.

 Next I made the brown fondant furniture. I started by making it brown and then added a bit of black but didn't fully mix it all so that it had a wood grain look. This was my first time ever using fondant. The pillowcase was pretty easy since it was white. I just wrapped some fondant around 2 or 3 graham crackers and cut the edges off.
 Next was coloring the fondant for the blanket blue. I started with the fondant on wax paper.
 Mixing the blue coloring in took forever and I was glad I used gloves.
 The next step was rolling it out flat and then laying it carefully on top of the bed. You can see the corner kind of tore but I was able to patch it up with a little bit of water smeered in.
 You have to use powdered sugar to roll it out on and I didn't sift my sugar so I had little white spots stuck into the 'blanket'. Let's just pretend it's blanket fuzz.
 I found some star sprinkles and took out all the yellow ones and placed them on the bed. I purchased a 5 pack of little Toy Story toys to put on top and Voila! 


G stuck his fingers in the bottom of the bed so there is a little indentation there, but not much that I could do about it to fix it.


The kids thought the cake was great, but pretty much just wanted to eat it rather than look at it.

 Cost: $40 for fondant, cake, sprinkles, and candles

Gifts: After last year's party we decided that we wouldn't be opening gifts at the next party. One because it takes so long. Two because the kids didn't appreciate all the gifts or have time to thank everyone. Three because if we want to invite more friends then that's way more gifts than our kids need.

So instead of having their friends bring gifts for the kids, this year we asked guests to bring a donation for Operation Christmas Child. It's a part of the Samaritan's Purse ministry where shoeboxes are filled with gifts and school supplies and delivered to kids in other countries. They also share the gospel of Jesus. We showed a DVD with a promo video of what the boxes were for, and video of kids receiving the boxes and enjoying the gifts and then we all got to pack some boxes.


We had two big tables set up with the supplies separated so kids could go down the line assembly style and grab some toys, school supplies, hygiene items and candy for their boxes.


I thought it was a huge hit and so glad I'd heard of this idea to do at a birthday party.


 Some people wondered what the kids thought of this whole idea of not getting any gifts at their birthday party. Trust me, they didn't go without or want for much! All their grandparents and relatives spoiled them quite well. Meme brought bikes for them both as they were growing out of their old ones and have really enjoyed playing outside recently.


I'm glad that 16 other children around the world will have a part in the happiness that comes in gifts and celebrating through the boxes we've put together.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Man, those butterflies can spend!

A has learned about camouflage and how animals protect themselves from predators. During church the other week they colored a picture of a butterfly and added googly eyes. She showed me her picture and I said it was pretty and I liked the googly eyes. She said, "Mom, I added extra googly eyes on the wings because this one is a Monarch Butterfly and the extra eyes help protect it from its creditors."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Baby K

This is my chronicling of our baby. I think it is part of my grief process, a way to affirm this child's life.

We have waffled for....well, since G was born about whether to have a 3rd child. At first I thought our family was complete, we had one of each gender and having two kids in 2 years was rough on me. A baby and toddler together were tests of my sanity. So I knew if we ever did have another one it would be after G turned 2. So he turned two in 2008 and we wanted to start trying in 2009 to get pregnant, but things were so up in the air at that time we didn't know if we'd have healthcare to pay for it all so we put it off. Then in the beginning of 2010 we thought about getting pregnant but I was still working so we put if off some more. Then I started feeling like the Lord wanted us to look into adoption. Financially, adopting privately wasn't an option for us so we researched adoptions through the state's foster care system. We took the 10 week course to get more informed and realized it would realistically take about 2 years to adopt a child who was younger than our other two (makes me wish we'd thought of adopting first, but obviously God had A planned for us).

So we felt the freedom to start trying to get pregnant, knowing and trusting that if the Lord wanted us to have another child that way he would weave one in my womb. After only the second month of trying we were pregnant and we told our kids and family about the new baby at the end of July. During the first week of August we had Vacation Bible School at church and I was struggling to stay energized for the whole time. I was feeling pretty yucky, and had to throw up one morning, and I was tired yet wasn't able to rest at home. The kids were eagerly telling 'The Family Secret' to our friends....so some people were finding out, and we didn't really mind. We finished out the summer with the trip to Busch Gardens and when we got back A told a girl at church, "We went to Busch Gardens and Mommy couldn't ride any of the roller coasters because of our Family Secret."

Finally we went to our first doctor's appointment. I had been scared with my second pregnancy that I would miscarry. My mom miscarried between my sister and me and I just thought that my second pregnancy would be like hers, but it wasn't. G was born healthy and happy. From my years of volunteering at Women's Resource and Medical Center I knew that about 25-30% of pregnancies ended in a miscarriage but that the risk of miscarriage dropped significantly after the baby had a viable heartbeat. So on August 19th we had an ultrasound, I held Hubby's hand as I waited with anticipation as I looked for the little heart beating. And there it was on the screen! I was so blessed, three healthy pregnancies! We took our pictures home, they said I was a little under 8 weeks along. We told the rest of our friends, and Hubby announced it to the church family before he preached that Sunday.

They never look like babies on picture at the first ultrasound, but seeing it live you can see them moving around a bit and the heart beating. The doctor said that the head is on the left side of this picture, that circle thing is the baby's 'halo' or yoke sack.

I had still been feeling pretty yucky most days and then it was time for A and G to start school. I worked as a substitute at the preschool and started feeling much better on most days. I assumed it was from the regular routine and more exercise. Life was going along pretty normal as we tried to figure out how this baby would fit into our family as we started making plans. Do we try and sell our house now or wait until after the baby is born? Will G and A share a room? I started sorting out some of my maternity clothes, but I still hadn't needed to wear any of it quite yet. People kept commenting about how I didn't even look pregnant, but I could tell there was a little bump and A started noticing too.

Both the kids were so excited about the baby. First they wanted twins, but the ultrasound showed there was just one little one in there. A wanted a baby girl so she could say she had a brother AND a sister. G said he wanted a sister because A told him he wanted a sister. A talked about the baby, she talked to the baby in my tummy, and we all prayed for the baby. I couldn't wait for the baby to get bigger and start moving around so they could feel the baby kicking. We pulled out their baby books and I showed them their ultrasound pictures and we watched A's ultrasound video.

Then everything changed. As we were packing for Chicago, planning to leave for the airport in a few hours, I had some suspicious symptoms and called the doctor and she asked me to come in for an ultrasound. I saw my baby on the screen, just as I'd seen 2 weeks before. After a few seconds of searching I didn't see the heartbeat. There was silence in the room and I could tell that Dr. was looking for the heartbeat too, trying to get a different angle or a better picture. More silence. Finally I looked away from the screen and put my hand over my eyes. She held my other hand and said she was sorry and that it wasn't good news. She said it was an early pregnancy failure and that something probably was wrong with the baby and that was why it didn't grow right. He/She was only about the size of a 9 week old, so the baby only lived a few days after my first ultrasound.

Someone had asked whether I wanted to have a boy or a girl this time around and I said either would be fine with us, and she said "yep, either way, you just want a healthy baby" and I said that I would take the baby even if it weren't healthy, boy or girl.

Even if there was something wrong I still wanted this baby.

And although everyone said that there wasn't anything I did that caused this, I still wondered. Was it because I walked around too much at Busch Gardens? Was I too stressed? Was it because I wasn't eating healthy enough? Did I do something wrong and this is some kind of punishment?

We knew we had to tell the kids and that was the part that broke my heart the most. I knew that I was an adult and could handle things, but they were so young and it would be hard for them to understand. We sat them down in the living room and had a family meeting. Hubby started by saying that God has a plan for each baby’s life and for some of them that plan is to grow up and be a child and then an adult, and for other babies his plan is for them to come right to him, and God’s plan for the baby in mommy’s tummy was for him or her to go right to God. I explained that the baby’s heart wasn’t beating anymore and that something was wrong with the baby and it caused the heart to not beat. G just could tell we were sad and came and gave hugs and kisses to me, but wanted to know if he could watch a video. A was confused and was getting a little angry with us, asking why the baby’s heart didn’t work. She also asked why we were so sad, and we told her it was because we really wanted to meet this baby in March and now we have to wait until we go to heaven, that we are disappointed because we wanted them to have a little brother or sister and that wasn’t going to happen when we thought it would. We prayed together as a family, and I felt like it went better than I thought it would.

We had to tell the rest of our family and they grieved with us. We had to tell everyone eventually, because we'd already announced that we were pregnant to pretty much everyone we knew. I had waited to tell the world until after the first ultrasound. I had waited in vain.

I had a D&C that same evening. We left the hospital and got home around 9pm. We finished packing and drove to my parents house, slept a few hours and then we were on the plane to Chicago at 7am. Our trip was a wonderful distraction. We had a great time as a family. It was less festive than I'd envisioned it, we were celebrating my 30th birthday and Hubby's completion of his masters degree. Instead of being a fast paced trip to a big city, we actually relaxed, rested, and didn't rush around.

Coming home from the trip was tough. I was pretty sad on the drive back home. We got home and there were sympathy cards in the mail and friends had dropped off dinner, dessert, and wine. All the notes from people online were so encouraging and I could feel the prayers all around me. How blessed I have felt, comforted by realizing what a huge base of support is all around me.

Part of my grief was knowing that others were grieving this loss too. It wasn't just mine, so many other people were excited about meeting this new addition to our family. In some points I felt like I needed to say "I'm sorry" to others for their loss. This child wasn't only mine.

A week or so later and I still am grieving but I'm also hopeful and have accepted what happened. I'm getting used to the fact I'm not pregnant. It's no longer a shock, and I have congratulated other pregnant friends without being resentful, but still it's sad. Seeing other pregnant women makes me need to take a deep breath, but it's because I know they are experiencing such a miracle in their womb. Hearing others talk about their baby's heartbeat makes my heart sink. I don't know how moms who've had multiple miscarriages or lost children after birth can handle these day to day occurrences. At this moment I think we will probably try to get pregnant again as soon as we can. And next time I doubt we'll wait until the ultrasound to share the miracle.

I know that one day I’ll see how God used this in my life. Whether to help someone else, to experience suffering like other women, to be more sensitive, or just to keep on realizing that the earth is not my home. I know he has a good plan for my life, for the life of my children and family. I just can't wait to meet baby K one day. To know that my child is now with Jesus, my Lord, worshiping Him, wow...I am thankful that I was chosen to carry this baby for even such a short time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Loose teeth

Well, it's finally happened! A came and told me that she had a loose tooth. She bit down on a Cheerio and said 'ow!' Then after that she wiggled her tooth around to show me and it was pretty loose. So, I of course took pictures of her so that I could get a few more with her baby teeth smile. A few days later another one next to it was loose. She wanted me to try and pull it, but it'd been a long time since I'd pulled my own teeth and I don't have any other tooth pulling experience. So I got a dry washcloth and tried to tug on it a bit and I felt it budge a little, but it stayed in, dangling by a thread of tooth.

So when we went to visit my parents we were at Walmart and I was trying on some shoes and A  was looking at her tooth in the mirror. Then she came over and said "Hey, look mommy!" and there in her hand was the little tiny tooth.


So, since the tooth fairy was already at Walmart, she picked up some Silly Bands that A was dying to have. And even though she knows who the tooth fairy is, she still enjoyed playing pretend and putting her tooth in the tooth pillow that I used as a little girl.


And the tooth next to it wasn't far behind either! Just a few days later she was swimming at my parents' pool and she bit her goggle strap trying to get it tight and out popped her other tooth!

This time the tooth fairy had to think fast. We had a leapster game that we were going to give her the next day for the car ride up to NC and it was just the right size to slip into the pillow. From now on the tooth fairy will just have to stick to money! We can't keep this up.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Narnia Exhibit

I took the kids to my parents' house for Memorial Day weekend to visit my family. One day we went to a museum to see the special Narnia Exhibit.


My favorite part was getting to see the White Witch's gown and crown...


And G was ready to walk right into Narnia..

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hair issues

It was only a matter of time really. A few weeks ago A came out of her room and told me she'd cut her hair. It wasn't really that big of a piece and she said she did it because it was in her way. I was upset with her, but it wasn't bad and it was easy to cover it up. Then a few days later she came out and said she cut her hair again. This time it was super short and right in the middle of her forehead. That's what you need the week before school pictures. Yeah, we didn't order that set.

After her 2nd attempt to make her own bangs


Long hair at Easter, I was trying to work the 'sweep over' her self made mini bangs.


And this guy liked her hair as she was trying to catch him.


Let's see that in close up...


Ewww, still gives me the jibblies.

G's hair has been getting in his eyes lately and during his last haircut I tried to watch the stylist as she cut it so I could try it on my own. So last week I took the kids out in the backyard and I got my spray bottle and scissors and went to it. A was first and I chopped about 6-8 inches off the back of her hair. I let her play with the big pile of hair and she thought it was so neat. I asked her if it felt lighter and she said 'yeah, now I can run superfast!' I guess that extra hair was just keeping her back. I evened up the back as best I could and then decided to do something to the front area where she'd cut her hair. At first I just thought I'd try to cut a little close to where she'd cut to at least give her some side bangs so that the part she cut in the middle wouldn't look so lonely. But then as I cut her some bangs I decided to just go ahead and cut bangs all the way around the front (there goes all that time we spent growing them out, oh well). I have to say, I think the bangs really work for her, plus it mostly covers up the second chop that she did. And to me it makes her look a little younger, more like a little girl, so we are enjoying that too.

Here she is at their Spring Program at school with her new shorter do:



For G's hair I started at the front to get it out of his eyes and then I lifted it up and cut it even around to the back. I know it's not perfect, but I actually think it turned out okay too. It was definitely better than the last time I tried to cut it (poor guy).

This picture is from July 2009, don't their looks just say, "How could you do that mom? Spend $10 on a hair cut so G doesn't have to look silly."


Here's a current shot of him at the school program, much better job this time around.


And while I'm talking about hair I need to mention a little story about A.

She was looking at some coins she'd earned by doing some extra chores in the backyard picking up leaves and weeds. She had a quarter and we were talking about George Washington and how he and other presidents were on our money. Hubby showed her a dollar bill and said, "Look, do you see who is on this one? It's George Washington again." A looked at him and said, "Daddy, you mean it's his wife"


At first Hubby and I were puzzled but then we realized that since he had the long puffy hair and ponytail she thought it was a girl, cause girls have long hair and boys have short hair. Kids are so cute.