Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A thankful post

Sometimes I just need to stop for a minute and think about my blessings...actually, I try to do this more often than sometimes (like daily, although I don't always accomplish that).  Tonight I was thinking about a couple specific things I'm thankful for right now, and thought that sharing those would make a good post. :) 

First of all, this little girl.  She's so much more of a big girl than a baby these days...though still my baby, too.  Most especially, I'm thankful that we are finally making progress on getting her to SLEEP!
 She has never been a great sleeper.  Partly because we've spoiled her a bit, and partly because I think she's just wired that way.  About a month ago, I decided I was finally ready to buckle down and work on her sleep issues.  It turned out to be soooo much easier than I anticipated (thank you, Jesus!!).  Now that we are nearly a month in, she's happily getting in her own bed every night, falling asleep within minutes, and only waking up (usually) about once a night.  And then falling right back to sleep with a little bit of back-rubbing from one of us.  This means that we're all getting much longer stretches of sleep (hello, 5-6 hours or more!!!) and I'm feeling so much more rested.  Even on those nights when I stay up late after everyone else is tucked in (oops).
 Look at that precious face.  I can't really begrudge her all the sleep I've lost over the past 27 months.  She is worth it. :) That said, it definitely is more tiring than it was when the other kids were babies!!  I'm getting too old for this! :D 
 Another thing I'm really thankful for tonight is my boys.  They are my "right-hand men" during this time of year when Jim has been working a logging job, which equals really long hours and not much time at home.  The boys help me keep the woodstove loaded, and pile wood beside it so I can fill it up right before bed.  
 They even dry dishes without (much) complaint, even when they would rather be reading. :) 
 They help clean snow off cars, shovel the deck, take care of chickens, etc.  (Julia helps with many of these chores, too. )  Sometimes even without having to be reminded or asked (though not always...they are kids, after all. ;))  And they make me smile every day.  Here's one thing that made me smile today: a tiny Chinese flag made by Josiah (we've been studying China in school).  He came up with this on his own, and later he turned it into a tiny paper airplane.
 Of course I forgot to get a picture of that.  Then he made a few other flags that became part of his paper airplane fleet, as well.  Maybe I'll add a pic of those tomorrow if I remember.  
You know what?  I bet he will always remember what the Chinese flag looks like after this!

Last but not least, I'm thankful for the opportunity Julia and I had to go to a performance of Fiddler on the Roof together, a few weeks ago.  It was a last-minute decision on the last day of the play, and thankfully there were still tickets available.  Though it was a long play (3 hours!) and a late night, we had a blast and were so glad we had gone.  
 It's a memory we will treasure, and hopefully the first of many plays we'll attend together. :)  Here is Julia afterward, with our sweet friend Diana who played the part of one of the village girls!  

It's late and I'd better wrap this up and get to bed.  But I wanted to share these things while they're on my mind.  There is always something to be thankful for, no matter the season of life we're in, isn't there?!  What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Randomness

 I've been mulling over post ideas all day, but here we are at the end of the day and I decided to go with random. :)  Mainly because all the other things I want to post about require more brain power as well as more time!  So here are some pictures from the past few weeks, and a few links at the end.

Jim and I sneaked off for a half hour for a quick snowshoe in the woods one Saturday.  We need to do this more often!  He snapped a few pics on his phone.
 (I wish I'd put on a little makeup that day, I look sooo tired!)
 Ari needed something to do one day while the big kids were doing something together and didn't want company. ;)  So I put her to work "helping" with dishes.  I think we'll do this more often...she had fun and so did I (even though I ended up washing several things over and over, since she kept pulling stuff out of the drainer to play with!).  I can't get over how long her hair is getting and what a big girl she looks like in this pic!
 It's great when the kids pull out toys they haven't played with in a while and get creative.  Sam had fun with the Geo-mags!  First he made a hat...
 Julia wanted to try it too, and discovered it wasn't too comfortable. :D
After that, he continued building and ended up with a soccer ball!
Then there's Josiah...also creative, although he usually prefers paper crafts.  Like this. ;) 
 Jim came home with flowers for me one day, out of the blue.  I was so surprised!  Aren't they pretty?  A bright spot in these gray winter days, for sure!
 The local rink has been offering a homeschool skate time on Mondays.  We've gone twice, and the kids love it!  Since most of the local ponds aren't too great for skating this winter, I'm glad we still have an opportunity to skate, even though it costs a little bit.  I love love love this pic of the kids and a couple of their friends from last week!

And now for some linky fun:  

  • Food love: I am working on getting back to menu planning, after the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  (I'm not doing well at it consistently, but I'm getting there.  I was in a good groove through the fall, but having trouble finding that groove again right now!)  Anyway, I am mostly all about simple meals right now and this Baked Gnocchi and Sausage hits the spot every time.  Yum!  Tonight I served it with homemade foccacia bread.
  • Book love: The kids and I have been reading Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (we're studying China as part of our Sonlight curric. right now).  This is a perfect read-aloud in my opinion, because most of the chapters are super short.  Of course, the kids always beg for "one more chapter" because they're so riveted, but we're taking our time working through it.  It's a lovely story and incorporates many Chinese folk tales along the way, which is so much fun.  Love it!
  • Pinterest love: this Valentine banner...I want to make one!  And I've also been looking at ideas for shared girls' rooms, dreaming about decorating our future addition.  There are so many cute and creative ideas out there!  I love this bookshelf and window seat.  I also think this room is lovely (apparently I have expensive tastes :D).  
  • Movie love: We enjoy watching movies on Amazon Prime, and this week we did a 1-week free trial to the Starz channel on Amazon (so we could watch the new Star Wars movie).  We also found a few other movies to try... I really enjoyed Pixar's Inside Out (made me laugh and cry, which is pretty much how ALL Pixar movies are for me!), and then last night we watched Risen.  Totally different genre, but it's based on Jesus' death and resurrection, as seen through the eyes of a Roman soldier.  Some violence, so I wouldn't recommend it for younger kids, but it was (in my opinion) excellent and really brought the Bible to life.  
And that's all for today...hope everyone is having a great week so far!

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Throwback Thursday...just because :)

I'm breaking tradition today and putting up a quick Thursday post, just for fun.  I actually might turn this into a regular thing, either Throwback Thursdays or Flashback Fridays...because I'm feeling a bit nostalgic. (I know all of you older moms or grandmas who read my blog might be laughing a little bit right now.  How does a not-quite-forty-year-old feel nostalgic, right?!)  You see, the other day my mom gave us back some of the family photo calendars that we'd given my Grampa over the past 6ish years...and the kids and I had such fun looking through them.  I got all reminiscent and honestly couldn't believe how much littler they were, only a few years ago.  It's crazy!  Also, I was talking with some homeschool moms last week who are a few years ahead of me in the journey and have kids who are finishing up high school.  They warned me again how I am "on the brink" of my big kids growing up, and how fast it goes.  Looking through those calendars was a tangible reminder.  So I thought it would be fun to take a look back in time a bit more often.  I've already forgotten too many of these days, but looking at the pictures brings them back.  These were all from 2011, so the kids were 7, 5 and 3. 

Oh, my heart.  I miss them at this age.  I love the people they are becoming, but...I miss this cuteness!
 This girl and her toothless grin.  Reminds me how very blessed we are that she wasn't killed or hurt any worse when she had her swing accident at 4 years old.  Her smile still lights up the day, but now she has a lot more teeth again! :)
 Giggles with cousin Ruth...partners in crime.  
 This was when we went over to Gee-Gee's camp and took some kids photos in the fall.  I miss the days when they would all sling their arms around each other like this...it's rare in pictures now!  (Not that they don't all love each other just as much...but the dynamics change as they grow.)
 One of my all-time favorites of the boys.  Siah's face!!! :D 
 We were trying and trying to get some good family and/or sibling photos, and Julia was so tired and grumpy...notice the red face, but she's trying to smile.  I still love it, teary eyes and all. :)

Ever wish you could turn back time, just for a few days?  That was me this week as I looked through some of these memories.  I'm super thankful we have the gift of digital photography to capture these moments!

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

December Memories, Part 2

Christmas Day...I took so many pictures, but apparently I didn't record the entire day, like the yummy traditional breakfast of egg casserole and cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting...YUM!  Oh well.  Suffice it to say that breakfast is always a hit on Christmas morning. :) 

Here are a few pics of kids opening presents.  Thankfully even though the stomach bug had hit Josiah and Ari the day before, Josiah was totally back to his normal goofy self by this morning, and Ari was a bit better and able to enjoy most of the day, although she was still running a fever (which later developed into a bad cold).

Big kids with a game from their aunt, uncle, and cousins in Ohio
Josiah with a new Lego Angry Birds set 
We got Julia some kitchen tools in her favorite color :)
Josiah was excited to get his very own BB gun!
Ari loved her new car from Papa and Grandma
A Lego Batman shirt from the Ohio grandparents!
A new tale in one of their favorite book collections
Daddy helps Ari open a Duplo train
This was Julia's response when she opened a new Wii game that was one of the top things she wanted!
Ari with her soft and silky sheep from Uncle Josh, Aunt Joanne, and cousins :)
Later in the day, my parents came over for dinner and more presents.  I love this pic of Julia and my dad (she had "borrowed" his extra pair of reading glasses, apparently)!  So funny.
Still later, we were able to FaceTime with the Ohio gang.  Here our kids are chatting with Levi, Ruth, and Eli (at least I think that's who's in the back).  They had a blast!  Since we weren't able to go be with everyone for Christmas, it was nice to hang out online for a little bit.
A few days after Christmas, we got another good snowstorm.  Just like last year (in fact, the same exact date!), our neighbor friends skiied down the road to our house for some sledding and playtime.  Here are Julia and our friends' daughters.  Snow bunnies!
Julia having more outside fun on another day, later that week.
Jim and the boys enjoyed digging a snow tunnel in a big mound of snow Jim had plowed.
Sisters!
Here you can see one end of the tunnel.  The kids also have a steep slide that they love to go down on the house side of the snowbank!
a Sam selfie :)
So now I'm caught up on December...hopefully next week (or before) I can share a few pics from January (you know, now that it's February... :D)!  I do have some other posts in the works too (mentally, at least).  I would love to be able to blog more than once a week, and maybe I'll get there eventually.  In the meantime, I'm glad I've been able to fit in posting on a regular basis once again.  It feels good to be back in a bit of a groove.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

December Memories, Part 1

What better day than January 25 to take a look back at Christmas? :)  I ended up with so many pictures to share that I decided to break this post up into two parts so as not to be way too overwhelming.  This one shows the days leading up to Christmas, and the next one will be mainly Christmas day and a few shots from the rest of the month.  I'm going to keep the commentary short and just let the pictures do most of the talking for me. :) 

Decorating the tree, which we put up on December 1st (I think!)
 This one is just so sweet...
 Ari was fascinated by the train under the tree!
 I had fun making the kitchen look a little bit festive...
 Every season I try to change these shelves up a little bit.
 Snowman treat jars ready to go!
 We got some snow before Christmas, too...definitely a white Christmas this year. :) 
 Love this boy and his grin!
 Julia and our neighbor friend, Ella
 Ari was dressed all Christmas-y for church...and she got into my mascara!!  Oops.  Made for a funny pic before I washed it off (and thankfully the damage to her clothes was minimal!).
 We finally remembered to fill our birdfeeder outside the window.  The chickadees were happy!
 All dressed up for the library open house
 Our attempt at a family pic...
 Cookie baking happened a few days before Christmas!
 A tradition we all still love. :) 
 They get more creative with their decorating each year, which is fun!
 When Ari woke up from her nap, she got in on the action.

 Love this one...
 Poor Ari and Josiah came down with a stomach bug on Christmas Eve day.  Needless to say, we skipped church on Christmas!  (But thankfully everyone was feeling better by then.)  Ari's bug turned into a cold/fever that continued for several days, her first "big" sickness.  We are thankful she's all better now!
 Hope you've enjoyed this peek back in time... Look for the next installment soon! :)