Sunday, December 25

Friday, December 23

Holiday Visitors

We have some extra-special guests staying with us right now: Aunt Ramona, cousin Christopher, and in-utero baby boy "Nugget"!  Christopher is about 9 months younger than Luke and a year older than Jack, so they stair-step down and have lots of fun together!  Yesterday we made some oatmeal cookies and played around the house, today we had haircuts (by Aunt Stephanie) and went to look at Christmas lights in pajamas.  They are all very anxious for Christmas to be here!


Sunday, December 18

Our Christmas Tree

Jack's first year to help hang ornaments.  He enjoying pulling everything out of the box!
Sunday night, the fourth Sunday of Advent, we decorated our tree.  It's not really a tradition for us to decorate it at a certain time, we just hadn't really gotten around to it yet!  It was kind of nice having it empty though- well, with only the lights- because I haven't had to worry about kids or cats pulling ornaments off!  I am now happy with the way our home is decorated this year, it was feeling very empty until we got our tree last weekend.  I bought a lot of fake poinsettias this year and I love them, they add so much color, are so festive, and look so fabulous against our new gray walls.  In fact, they were the inspiration for us to paint our half-bathroom a cranberry-red color!  It's intense but I love it! 

A Birthday Party

Miss Bethany will be celebrating her FIFTH birthday in 9 days, but because of the date we held a birthday party with her friends on Saturday the 17th.  This was her very first "friend" party, all girls, and oh-so-girly. :-)  A long time ago she wanted a Fancy Nancy-themed party, so we made some uber-cute birthday invitations and we took the Fancy Nancy, French, pink and purple theme and ran with it!  We requested each girl wear her most exquisite ensemble and we gave out boas, "pearl" necklaces, and sunglasses (that all broke!) to each of the girls upon her arrival.  We played "Fancy Freeze Dance" where the girls had to make a funny pose when I suddenly would stop the music, and Beth would choose the girl with the silliest pose.  We also played "don't let the balloon touch the ground," a game that every kid I've ever met loves!  After playing and dancing a bit, the girls sat down for a fancy lunch- chicken salad sandwiches, veggies and dip, chocolate-dipped pretzels, cookies, and strawberry lemonade out of champagne glasses!  After lunch the girls played some more until we decided to open gifts.  Beth was, as you can imagine, incredibly excited about this, and waiting for it the entire day!  She received a LOT of Fancy Nancy books and activity books, a small Yorkie in a carrying bag, a Lalaloopsy doll, and a couple of craft kits.  Fabulous gifts!  After presents we sang "Happy Birthday" and had cake, then slowly the girls went home.  Beth absolutely loved her birthday party!  Thank you to all the little girls and their Mommies who made the drive to our home to help us celebrate!

The table, complete with an Eiffel tower in the middle!

Thursday, December 15


"I can see the cat"
We've been trudging along with school here, some days are more organized than others but every day offers so many built-in learning opportunities.  Beth is most excited by numbers and handwriting, and I've got to say her handwriting is already better than Ryan's. ;-)  Recently she's lost interest in continuing her reading lessons so I've stopped using the book because I want her to stay excited about it.  Instead we've been using homemade flashcards (which she LOVES) with sight words that she's familiar with, and I'm introducing new words every week.  The other day she surprised me by grabbing the flashcards and building a sentence, "I can see the cat."  She was so proud of herself, so I had to take a photo!

Here's a video from a week or two ago.  Beth is reciting "Singing Time" by Rose Fyleman.  Ryan set up the playroom to resemble a stage and theater, and of course Luke wanted to participate too...

Wednesday, December 14

St. Nicholas Day

Last week we had a little visit from St. Nicholas!  The kids prepared by writing letters and drawing pictures, and helping me bake some cookies to leave out.  Beth was incredibly excited to see what would happen, and she was amazed to see the goodies he left behind.  We had been reading books, watching the Veggie Tales St. Nicholas DVD, and talking all week about St. Nick.  They knew that he was known to help people out in secret, which is why he'd visit us at night while we were sleeping.  St. Nick left everyone oranges, candy canes, gingersnap cookies, new books for everyone, and some little flying model airplane thingies.  St. Nick wasn't able to find gluten-free gold coins this year. :-(  He'll have to plan better next year!

checking it out when they woke up and came downstairs

the aftermath.  three new books each for the kids, a new book for mommy by kimberly hahn, and daddy got a new grill brush- ha!
After they had some cookies we had planned to feast on a crockpot breakfast casserole I had been cooking all night, but it burned so we had our regular breakfast of oatmeal and frozen waffles! 

Next year, I hope to do things a little differently.  I think I'd like for St. Nick to bring a bigger gift for each child, something they'll get super-excited about...Books are nice but I didn't get the impact I was wanting from them, lol.  I want them to also write a letter to Jesus and ask St. Nick to bring it to him.  Then we'll have a breakfast that hopefully won't be burned, and have a fun morning playing with their new toys- sort of like a mini-Christmas. 

They won't be getting presents from Santa this year, or ever. We've told them that Saint Nicholas brings presents on December 6th to the children who believe in him, and that other children who call him "Santa" will receive gifts on December 25th.  I feel horribly funny "deceiving" my children by telling them someone came into our house to bring presents, but there's the element of childhood fantasy and fun that I don't want them to miss out on either.  I feel like St. Nick is the compromise between reality and fantasy, and after the discussion Beth told me she liked getting her gifts from St. Nick on December 6 instead of on Christmas day since she'll be getting presents from other people on Christmas day anyways.  Ha!  So much for the message of the true meaning of Christmas!

Wednesday, December 7

These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things!

Since Christmas is soon and gift buying is well underway, I thought I'd do a silly post about all of the favorite toys we've had around here for the past almost-5 years!  There are several toys in our home that have withstood the test of time, a few have surprised me quite a bit and other "classic" toys were worth the extra money to have a well-made toy.

For Beth's first birthday, a friend of the family gave her a Leapfrog Fridge DJ.  I thought it was dumb and intended to return it but it somehow became Beth's car toy, and she played with that thing every day in her car during all of our drives.  It stayed in the car and she loved it.  As she's gotten older, she now can sing along with all of the songs and the silly thing still entertains her!  Both Luke and Jack love it too, so it's gotten a lot of use!

Saturday, December 3

A tool bench!

Look what Ryan and his dad built today!  A real tool bench!  Actually, for an anniversary gift in JULY, I surprised Ryan by finding online plans and buying all of the materials for him to do this.  However, I don't really need to say that it's too hot to work in the garage in July, and we've been so busy... Well, it's better late than never!  He has a sturdy tool bench now and we're hoping to actually organize the garage a bit now.  Doesn't it look great?!  They worked all day, I'm so proud of him!

Tuesday, November 29

Hot Chocolate

Sunday was a cold day. said it was 51 degrees but in the shade with the wind blowing, I'm certain it was much colder than that!  My hands were red and freezing, and my ears were hurting because of the wind.  Ryan mowed the lawn for what should be the last time this season, and of course Luke had to "help" by pushing his lawn mower aside Ryan.  Beth rode her bike and Jack toddled along with me, picking up toys out of the yard and pruning the bushes in the front yard. 

By the time Ryan got to the backyard I was freezing cold and went inside to make some hot chocolate.  We haven't had any this year yet and the kids don't remember it from last year, so this was a pretty new experience!  I found an easy recipe and made my own on the stovetop, distributed it among four mugs, and covered each mug in marshmallows!  Needless to say it was a hit!
luke was hesitant to try it at first... once he realized it was warm (and not hot!) he gulped it up.

Monday, November 28

Our Thanksgiving

We spent our Thanksgiving this year at my parent's house, driving in on Tuesday and staying until Saturday.  It was the typical family affair: lots of people crammed into a house, eating, playing games, drinking, napping, more eating. We were blessed with beautiful weather so we spent a lot of time outside as a family! Ryan and I snuck out to see a movie one night, and another night we went to my brother's apartment to hang out and have some drinks while my brother played bartender.  :-) 

Our Thanksgiving feast consisted of two turkeys (and some separate turkey cutlets for Beth!), dressing, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, something else I'm forgetting?, and crescent rolls.  I love crescent rolls.  They were always such a treat, and now an even less-frequent treat!  I made some homemade crescent rolls for Beth so she could have her own  and she really liked them!  They were very buttery but not so flaky, I'll have to work on the recipe more!

Sunday, November 20

Tuesday and Wednesday Photos

pica thought the pipe cleaners were a toy for her

pipe cleaners + colander= fun for kid and cat

Still Sick

A quick note to say we're all still sick.  Ryan stayed home from work on Friday.  Beth seems to be the best off out of all of us, but it hit her first so maybe that's why.  Today's the first day Luke seems to be on the mend, so far (crossing fingers and knocking on wood) there's been no fevers from anyone today.  We did all stay home from mass though because we're all coughing up nasty stuff and still very lethargic.  We're hoping to be over this for Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16

Lesson Learned

Why on earth would I write something like, "The boys didn't get Beth's cold!" and hit publish?

Needless to say, we're all sick, everyone but Ryan.  It started simultaneously with Beth, Jack, and me, though the they actually have a fever and I just feel achy.  Luke has been mostly spared, but the amount of over-the-top whiny-ness tells me it's about to hit him hard too.

I've been reading a lot lately about nutrition and health, and finally feel like I'm getting somewhere with our health and diets.  Once I cut out Chex from the kid's diets, I saw a major improvement in Luke's attitude and his ability to sit down and concentrate on a task.  I can't be positive but I think it's the corn.

Feeling at peace is sometimes a hard thing for me, as I feel like I'm constantly seeking ways to improve our lives.  I wonder if certain behaviors can be changed because the more I read the more I'm convinced that what goes on in our guts directly affects what goes on in our brains, and when a child is acting out I try to figure out how I can help him or her. 

At some point though, I realize it's in God's hands.  He's given me the brain and the resources to figure out how to best care for my children, and after I've done all I can I have to give it to him.  When Jack was battling his rash for months and months... It was the same thing.  We visited so many doctors, tried so many medicines, but in the end I had to find peace in knowing that God was watching over him.  It was a hard reminder to put my trust in God when all I wanted so badly was for my little boy to be well again.

So we're all sick and tired.  We take efforts to boost our immune systems, get plenty of water and rest, and ask God for quick healing.  The good news is it's given me some extra time to cuddle with my boys, who are usually too busy to sit and let Mommy stroke their hair. :-)

Monday, November 14


Anyone miss the old days when I used to blog about my interior thoughts and dreams?  Yeah, me too.  I think I'll start doing that again.  But, not today, as I'm off to bed.  It's 10:00, it's late!  Man, I'm an old lady. :-)

Fall Sickness

So it's been a few days since my last update... I'm getting pretty terrible at this blogging thing, huh?!  When I have a client that's near her due date, I make it a point to go to bed very early each night because I don't know when or if I'll be called in the middle of the night, and this cuts back on my "extracurricular" activities like blogging... and cleaning house... ;-)

We have had our first round of fall sickness in the house, and it struck Beth.  She had a fever for several days and was very lethargic, laying around on the couch and napping on and off all day.  She didn't really have any other symptoms though, so we treated her fever and gave her time to heal.  The boys never got sick!

Unfortunately we had our family pictures scheduled so we went ahead with the shoot, we didn't realize Beth was still sick that morning as she woke up full of energy!  By the end of the shoot she was exhausted and had big bags under her eyes, I felt horrible for bringing her outside on a chilly morning!  I think we still managed to get a few good ones, hopefully a beautiful one for our Christmas cards!

I'm having a hard time believing November is halfway over, and that Thanksgiving is next week!  It doesn't help that it's 80 degrees outside today! I knew it was going to happen, that time would fly by- Luke's birthday always kicks off the busy season around our house!  I'm already considering what to buy for Christmas gifts, how to celebrate St. Nick's feast day, Beth's birthday party (the big number 5!), and visiting with our out-of-town friends and family. 

I've been feeling pretty good though, and I'm ready for the festivities to begin!

Tuesday, November 8

Halloween 2011

 Sorry this Halloween post is a little late!  :-)  We skipped out on the All Saint's Day party this year because I just didn't have it in me to prepare costumes.  We've gone the past two years and the kids had fun, and I know they would have enjoyed it even more this year.  I wasn't up for it, though!  So we just did plain old trick-or-treating, which they enjoyed quite a bit.  Beth went as a Monarch butterfly, Luke was a farmer on a tractor, and Jack was his cow.  The idea was for Luke to be Farmer Brown from the book Click Clack Moo, and Jack was to be a cow with a typewriter.  But I couldn't find a typewriter, so he was just a cow!  They went out with Ryan for about 30 minutes, while I stayed home expecting the door bell to ring... Except it didn't.  Okay, it rang once while they were gone, and once after they got home.  TWO trick-or-treaters!  Ryan told me a lot of families brought their candy to the end of their driveways to hand out to the kids (we have very long driveways in our neighborhood) so I guess that's why we didn't get many kids knocking at our door.  OH WELL, more candy for us!  Hehehehe...

Pumpkin Carving

Sunday, October 30

Luke's Birthday Party

His cake, made by Mommy of course.  He loved it!  In retrospect I should have put the M&Ms a little closer together but overall I'm happy with it!

Bethie and MawMaw

MawMaw and the birthday boy, who is addicted to juice bags

Jack wasn't so entertained with Uncle Alex's blower thingie.  (We couldn't figure out what the technical name for those things are!)

Luke had so much fun with our out-of-town guests!

A silly smile, he was too excited to play with the diggers!

I think he had some help blowing out his candle. ;-)

Look at all those presents!

He got a firetruck!  Look at that smile!

A few new books, including Daddy's favorite, "I Stink!"

Coolest toy, a working drill and little toys with screws to drill.  He loves this!

The banner I made for his birthday!

I'm planning on using this in the future too! 

We made some coordinating flag banners also, and birthday cards mixed in with my Halloween mantel.

Thursday, October 27

Wednesday, October 26

Ryan's Half-Marathon

Before the race began, psyching himself up no doubt

Ryan's cheering section.  Eating breakfast.

And they're off!  Yes, this hill is right at the start of the race, and not the only hill he had to run.  He didn't train on any hills and this is what nearly did him in.

We had lots of time to kill so we ate some more breakfast (Chex in a bag) on a hill.

I think she was expecting to watch people run the entire time, poor girl was rather bored.
Halfway done!  Only six and half miles to go!
Minutes after Ryan finished.  He really sprinted those last hundred yards or so, and given that this was his first time to ever complete this distance, he was exhausted.  And sore.  But he did it!

Tuesday, October 25

Blah Blah Blah...

I've had a lot on my mind lately.  But I'm just going to start typing, and see where this ends up.  Maybe I'll edit a lot, maybe I'll just let the random thoughts be.

So, it's been a rough month.  The craziness has continued and, though this things haven't happened to me, they've affected me directly.  I think it's safe to say this has been one of the hardest months in my life.

Sunday, October 23

Now We Are Three

Luke, today is your third birthday!  Happy day to you!  We will celebrate by having a few friends and family members come over to share some cake with you.  You requested M&M's and Mommy knows you love big machines so I will decorate your cake specially for you! 

The night before your birthday we tried to go to a pumpkin patch, but they had no pumpkins!  You were so disappointed, but we went out to dinner instead and you shared a hamburger with Daddy.  We promised to get a pumpkin later in the week!

Friday, October 21

Gluten-Free Girl, One Year Later

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Beth's endoscopic biopsy, and then October 30 is the one-year date of when she officially began her gluten-free diet.  It's been a whole year already.

Going through some of my old blog posts from last year brought me to tears.  Finally realizing why Beth had been in pain for so many months. Her first tastes of gluten-free bread and pasta- she loved them.  Watching her clothes get smaller as she grew taller, watching her bloated belly thin out.  Noticing short, sweet hairs growing on her precious little head... Hairs I didn't even realize she had been missing.  The dark bags under her eyes... Gone.

Wednesday, October 19

Luke's New Game

our newest little friend, a green hummingbird.  he's the only one we've ever seen at our feeder that we put up two weeks ago, but he seems happy to have found it because he comes several times a day!

Sunday, October 16

No More Cable TV

sort of a sad way to watch a football game!
I can't remember if I've blogged this or not, but we ditched our cable several months ago.  We tried in vain to figure out a way to hook our computer up to our television, but due to the age of our tv and the input types, it's nearly impossible!  We've been reduced to watching our favorite shows on the computer, which hasn't been a huge deal but it's sort of... inconvenient?  Uncomfortable?  We kept the tv hooked up to the DVD player so the kids can watch DVDs, but that was all it was good for.

Until last week.  Ryan bought a converter box and an antenna.  Do you know how much it was hurting him to watch football on the computer screen?  Lots.  Well, since we're not in the city we don't get great reception, but we now get the basic channels which means Ryan can watch most of the football games.  Yesterday's game was on a regular channel, so I took the above photo of Ryan and Beth watching the game on the computer.  Don't you feel sorry for him?

beth and jack, enjoying a snack while luke finishes his late nap
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