Wednesday, June 29, 2011

To Ohio We Will Go

We are back in my "mother land" and having a great time!

To Ohio we went on Saturday morning at 6:30am--my plan was to drive my crew the 5.5 hours to Pittsburgh, stop and see some ND friends there, and then head onto Toledo another 3.5 hours. Everything *praise God* went according to plan, which was really great bc this was a solo trip just me and the kiddos! The roads were smooth, Big Blue was humming (good, old boy!), and the kids traveled well, playing nicely with some car survival kits (thanks, Mimi!) and our laptop serving as the DVD player.

The stop in Pittsburgh was so lovely, thanks to Carol and Tom and sweet boys! My crew enjoyed playing with new toys and seeing C and T's two adorable boys. Their family seems to be thriving after only two months since welcoming child #2. It was really great to see them. The coffee they provided was also vital for my last leg of the journey. Never did I feel sleepy or unfocused, so that was a huge answer to prayer (I can be a sleepy driver!)

We pulled into my parents' place around dinnertime on Saturday, no worse for the wear and all in great spirits! We had done it! :) Mama was probably the happiest kid in the car! My sister and fam drove in to have dinner with us--such a nice treat to see people we love beyond measure after a long day in the car. I couldn't get over how big my twin nephews are--they are up to my shoulder in height and are only 10mos. older than our M! :) And gentle giants they are, playing so nicely with my little ones and taking orders well from M. He's usually the ring leader and they are kind enough to go along with him. ;)
The last three days have brought all sorts of adventures, including lots of swimming in my sister's pool, some fun workouts with old friends, a nature walk with my family in my most favorite woods...


Cooking some of the biggest s'mores with Uncle Chad and Aunt Jess. Check out those marshmallows.



Learning about an orange moth from Pappy. My biologist roots are evident here!


The nature kiddos--they *loved* the nature window we visited later, complete with frogs, 2 groundhogs, visible bee hives, and an array of birds.



Can you imagine getting to run here every day?! I was so spoiled as a kid!!

On the docket for today--family pictures to be taken by a family friend and a girls' night with my most favorite girls from high school!! There will be eight of us there and I'm sure plenty of stories shared from our youth. Can't wait!!

We send our love to our Virginia peeps, especially to our GG/Daddy who is most missed and loved! We wish you were here with us... xox

God bless,

Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy One Year, MG!

When we first laid eyes on you, sweet baby girl, we had no idea what we were in for. Your cries echoed loudly down the hall. You were here and you were going to let everyone know it. Proclaim it, sister! Little did we know how overcome our hearts would be with love for you, our little lady. Pink was the new thing and by golly, did we love our pink!

When we first brought you home, sweet baby girl, your brothers doted on you so... and continue to do so. In fact, they love you so much, dear one, they feel it necessary to share an extra squeeze in their hugs, an additional head rub in their pats no matter what protest cries you give them. All their physical love is merely an expression of all that baby love, locked tight inside! They really do mean well, sweet one. Daddy and I are quite proud of your "brother squeal" you've developed whenever they come near!
Since those first days as a family of six, we've had great, happy, fun family times. We've also had spells where Daddy and I didn't know which end was up, swimming in a vast sea with no land in sight. But we're making it, baby girl. And no doubt, we're loving it. Many thanks to your smiles and joy and exuberance...

You and I had a wonderful chat this morning in the quiet house, just the two of us. It was early and the boys were still asleep. You nursed for the last time (sniff, sniff) and the two of us played and gabbed. What languid tones I heard coming from your mouth today, sweet one. You are becoming a chatty one already (you come by it honestly!) and I can't wait to share many more mother-daughter moments like this one.

You color our world, MG, and we PRAISE GOD for your precious life! Here's to one year and many more to come. How much we celebrate you today!!

Happy Birthday, sweetheart!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Camp B-mama

Well, the summer has officially started around here. After day one, I was feeling pretty good about how the day went when I was reminded, "This is only day one!" Ahh--how does one keep three boys and a little girl busy and out of trouble for three months?

Enter: Camp B-mama!

That's not really what we're calling it around here, but it sounds fun doesn't it? "Camp" is really just the ebb and flow of our home life, mixed in with activities and themes to keep us all focused and busy.

Our days start with waking, dressing, eating, and teeth-brushing. The boys checked dentist appt. off their summer lists already with a visit on Monday. Both came back with a thumbs-up on their oral hygiene and a reminder to brush twice-a-day. Oy! There is definite room for improvement on that one... So we're going to work on incorporating more teeth-brushing into our morning routine.

From breakfast, there are four options for our mornings: 1) free play in the house, 2) gym play at the YMCA while mom works out, 3) morning math and piano--the boys have math books they are completing and M is continuing to play piano throughout the summer, or 4) off on an outing!

We have set up our week to have a different morning activity depending on the day of the week. Mondays and Wednesdays are going to be a combination of 1 and 3. Tuesdays and Fridays are 2's thanks to some great classes at the gym I love! Thursdays are 4's and will be dictated by our weekly theme.

Monday lunchtime is when we'll head to the library to pick out books for our weekly theme. This week's theme: GERMS--viruses and bacteria! The boys have a Magic School Bus book on this topic that they love, so all of our resource time this week (silent and cooperative reading, computer time, etc.) is going to be spent learning more about germs. Unfortunately, the library offered few children's books on this topic, so we're going to have to be computer-reliant for a lot of our information. On the docket for this morning--germ books, where the kids will create their own germ reference guides and practice drawing and writing.

Afternoons will be spent in silent reading and media time (TV/Computer). I am desperately resisting the temptation to have any media in the morning hours. It is an extra that we'll save for when we're really strung out, tired, and exhausted by the morning hours. The babies will usually be napping during those hours anyway, so it will really be just the older boys getting some chill time.

Add in our trip to Ohio next week, two weeks of swim lessons, a week of Vacation Bible School in the mornings, and a week of morning art camp and we really only have about 8 summer weeks with which to implement our themes. Not too shabby! We will have a much better chance of surviving this way than without a plan.

I'm already seeing the fruit--it is apparent to me why homeschooling moms love the flexibility of their schedules. Not having to be in such a hurry in the morning has already been SUCH a blessing. We are all much more calm and at peace. My hats off to those of you who do this year round!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Many Faces of MG





And of course my favorite:

Our almost-one-year-old has been showing us quite the personality lately. She's also been pulling out some new skills and words. Just last night at dinner I asked her if she was all done and she looked at me and T (standing next to me) and said, "All Do" while doing the sign for all done. So fun! I love to watch her emerge, our little lady. She's still a sweet and happy baby, but able to stand up for herself, which is a godsend considering all of her brothers!

God bless you,

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bedside & Blogworthy

Tonight after bedtime prayers...

J: "Sweet Dreams! Where's my money?"

laughter all around

B-mama: "Boys, that's what I say to Daddy every night--'Sweet dreams. Where's my money?"

more laughter

GG: "And I say, 'Sweet Dreams. You spent it all' to Mommy."

I laugh, then silence...

M: "Mommy, do you really say that to Daddy?"

Lol,

No Attitude, Just Gratitude

Man, did I need a boost this morning. I was a regular, old crab apple upon waking. The kids felt it as I was annoyed during breakfast. GG felt it as I was frantic, trying to get him and M out the door for their morning. Ugh. I felt awful.

In steps my Adrenaline workout this morning. It was fun, social, and endorphin-rich. Thank you, Lord, because you know I needed friends and health to remind me of who I am.

In steps the Christian music playing on the radio. Thank you, Lord, because you know the words I needed to hear.

In steps the coffee I consumed on the way out of the gym. This is always beyond helpful. Thank you, Lord, because you know I needed the extra spring in my step.

In steps these gorgeous blooms outside my window, which my neighbor encourages me to clip and enjoy. Thank you, Lord, because you beautify my world with your creation.
In steps sweet babes, who are forgiving and forgetful and full of life. Thank you, Lord, because you know I cherish second... and third... and fourth chances.

Thank you, dear Lord, because you make all things new.

Friday, June 10, 2011

On tap for today

*Carpet cleaning--we are saving $$ today using our steam cleaner rather than hiring the professionals. So far, so good. Our back stairs are thanking me for saving them from 2 years worth of dirt. Pouring out the collecting tank is always amazing to me--where does all that dirt come from??? I know, I know... my four children... and probably a little from their parents too!

*Running and Coffee--I logged almost 5 miles on the treadmill today. It was a good one--nice and steady and I felt strong after feeling pretty wimpy/weak this past week. Afterward, I got in a little magazine perusal while drinking gym coffee. Thank you, good Lord. My kids had a great time in child watch and mama got much-needed personal time. MG is starting to push back her morning nap, which is making me oh-so-happy and allowing these rare gym times. They are a Godsend!

*Lunch with GG! He came by to meet up with M for lunch at school and swung by the house to see us! woo hoo! Lunch with Daddy!! I don't think this has ever happened before, so we were tickled by the surprise.

*Date night tonight. Thank you, dear Mimi and Papa! Nothing puts a spring in my step like knowing GG and I are getting out together. This is vital!

*And last but not least, polo pictures from this past weekend, dahling...

My happy fam, despite it being SO hot!

The birthday girl, Rachel, and me. This is Nadia's mommy, who just gave birth a week prior to this picture! Her husband had this whole deal planned ahead of time, so they decided to proceed with plans. Nadia is doing GREAT--the hole in her heart closed and she's off the ventilator!

Stomping the divots--how polo of us!

Cheers to you for a glorious weekend!
God bless,

Monday, June 6, 2011

From the couch

I am sitting here with GG watching a TV special of Terminator 2. It is a rather relaxing way to end what was a busy, boy-centered day. Having T home from preschool for the summer has spiced up our little at-home world. J, MG, and I are having a great time with T around with whom to do puzzles, play games, adventure outside, conquer swim lessons, and have an all-around happy, joy-filled morning. I feel really fortunate to have these three weeks with T home while M finishes up his school year. We are having a great time.

It's after days like these past ones that I don't mind if the house is messy and out of sorts because it means I've busied myself with the kids rather than menial housekeeping tasks. I can sit back on the couch tonight and rest up for the next day to come, complete with it's own adventures.

For your reading pleasure, here are some snippets passing through my brain at the moment:

*I love Chipotle--GG sent me there for dinner tonight via gift card. I ate half my bowl, went grocery shopping, then returned home and shared the remainder with GG. Each of us filled a salad plate with a quarter of the bowl's contents. I was equally *alarmed* at the quantity of food I could have easily downed in one sitting (good to break it up) and thrilled with the value of such a meal for $6. Sign me up.

*I'm so proud of one of my best friends from childhood, Amy Seiffert, who was featured on CNN today. SO completely proud of the beautiful woman she is. She is my soul sister and loves the Lord so much. Can't believe God so graciously blessed me with the women He did at such a young age. I met one in preschool, another in kindergarten, the third in 1st, and Amy in the 3rd. The five of us stuck it out together through all the years. These girls are my heart and know me at my roots.

*We have a growing suspicion that J is color blind. It wasn't much of an issue until I recently realized he knows a lot of letters, but has spotty cognizance of colors. I think he has until age 4 to master them, so we'll see. One of Mimi's brothers has it, so it's possible it's in the genes! I'm not too worried. If colors are the greatest of our worries, life is Aok.

*MG is finally officially crawling according to textbook standards. She's been army crawling for months, but just last week put it all together to coordinate on all fours. She's also now moving up stairs and down (head first! down our set of three stairs) and traveling along furniture after pulling to a stand. I didn't walk as a baby until 15 mos., so I have low expectations for my kids!

*We capped another great weekend away in western VA this past weekend, which means it was two-in-a-row away for our crew. I will say we are looking forward to a "down" weekend next one, but we loved the chance to be in the mountains, swim, and catch a polo match Sunday afternoon to celebrate a friend's birthday. Good stuff. GG even managed to get hit with the polo "ball" within a few minutes of arriving! Thankfully all was fine, GG was uninjured, and he said the ball was actually pretty soft. What a tough man of mine! :)

*T-ball is done and mama is happy! We came and we conquered our tough spring schedule and M had a great time! Now it's going to be tough making him choose sports in seasons to come,,, all I know is that I'm enjoying having our gang home on Tuesday and Thursday evenings!

Alrighty, friends, T2 is now over and this mama is going to be getting to bed. Pictures to come tomorrow.
Thanks for hanging with my couch contemplations.
God bless you,

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Goin' Back

What joy it brought us to visit our alma mater this past weekend. They do up reunions rather well, leaving a sweet, sweet taste in the mouths of their alums. There are few trips that leave us happier upon departure than arrival and this is definitely one of them.

How can you argue with 3 fun-filled days, jam-packed with all things orange and black; many school-spirited cheers alongside thousands of other people who feel as nostalgic about your school as you do; good friends who fill your heart with kindness and joy and faith? They remind you of who you are, where you've come, and that there are good people in the world.
It was a chance for us to share our Princeton passion with our children and let them taste the goodness of community. The boys appeared to enjoy themselves, but were weary soldiers as we pulled out of town. We graciously thank wonderful Mimi and Papa for their sacrifices to be with us this weekend and provide babysitting while we took on reunions at nighttime.

We returned for a relaxed Memorial Day to remember our brave soldiers and heros.
And we continue to settle in... Last night the washer went. Poor thing is abused! Thankfully, the repairman has already come and gone and the wash is running. Alleluia! Another casualty of the trip was our driver's side window, which after 13 years has decided to stay in the down position and will not move up! It made this *glorious* choice north of DC on our trek back home. Alas, if any of you were expecting a call from me on the trip home, I chose not to subject you to the blaring highway noise and my need to yell to talk over it. Lovely. ;) We will also be getting that fixed this week... or shopping for a new van. More likely the former (though the latter would be SO much more fun! ;)

Other than that, we are entrenched in prayer here for two sweet babies--the first is our godson, Gus, son of Red over at Building Cathedrals. He is in the hospital undergoing rigorous testing to find out the cause of an almost-20-day stomach bug that has caused him to lose over 20% of his body weight. They are closing in on a diagnosis and we are praying for the best case scenario.

The other little, little, little baby is precious Nadia, born on Friday to my good friend here, Rachel. Rachel developed severe toxemia at 31 weeks and had a platelet count of 55 before being taken for an emergency C-section. Praise God, Rachel made it and so did the wee babe, measuring 2lbs. 12oz. Nadia is stable and on a ventilator in the NICU. Docs are working to close a hole in her heart that is preventing her from growing more efficiently. Precious babe. I was able to see her on Monday and stroke her beautiful little head. Just love her. Jesus, be with her.

God bless you this Wednesday,