Graham

How do you say “hello” after months away from blogging? I guess with an excuse- about the time of my last post, I found out I was pregnant, and very shortly thereafter, I was hit with such extreme fatigue that lasted about half my pregnancy, went away for a few weeks, and returned along with a myriad of later pregnancy woes. I guess the fatigue wasn’t quite as debilitating at that point, but all the other aches and pains and complications made up for it. I am quite sure I was not made to have a dozen children!! The only thing I really enjoy about pregnancy is feeling the baby moving.

There were days when I wondered how I would ever make it to October. But here it is, the middle of November, and I survived! The only thing I miss is the “pregnancy glow.” Although I feel better than I did my entire pregnancy, even on my best days I look pale and haggard and sleep deprived!

Graham Matthew was born five weeks ago. He weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces and was 20 inches long. He was my biggest baby, but he went down to 7 pounds, 9 ounces- or that’s the lowest recorded. At his one week appointment, he was still about there, and in the next couple days, he didn’t seem to be gaining, and I was a little worried. But finally around 2 weeks, he took off and got back up to his birth weight, and now he’s close to 10 pounds. He’s grown quite a bit in length, too. He’s outgrown most of his newborn clothes. Sometimes I put clothes on him and think “this is the last time he can wear this” and at least once I put something on and realized that I really needed to take it off because it was just too small.

We are so excited to have a little boy! It’s just so much fun. He isn’t the world’s happiest baby, but I’ve had more difficult ones, so it’s not too bad. He does think he should be held a lot, and unfortunately he doesn’t really like his sisters to hold him much anymore, so it can be a little hard to get things done. He almost does better away from home than at home, which is great when we have a lot going on. This is actually my the first day I don’t have anywhere to go in 10 days. I was more than a little happy about that!

I’ll let the following pictures tell the story of the last few weeks. All the pictures are from the first 2 weeks or so… except the last one, which was from a couple days ago, when Emily turned 4.

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There is so much more I could say. It’s been good, sometimes achingly so, but it’s also been difficult. Emily adores her brother but is so angry about all the time I have to spend taking care of him. It’s hard to homeschool with a newborn. The girls fight so much I sometimes just want to bang their heads together. I hope we settle into a comfortable normal soon!

And I really need to publish this and get on with my day. This short post took way too long to write. I might not be back for another 9 months. I don’t even know if I want to blog again or not, but perhaps I will give it a shot.

Valentine’s Day

I read some things this week here and there online about Valentine’s Day. Some people think it’s overrated. We should love each other every day of the year, right?

If that’s the only day of the year you show love to your spouse, your family, then it reeks of phoniness to profess your love with words flowers and cards and a fancy night out. But if you all express your love in many ways all year long, I don’t think there is anything wrong with celebrating a little. I look at it the same way as birthdays and Christmas- those are times we often go to a little extra bother to make things special. If we did those special things every day, they wouldn’t be special anymore, now would they?

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That being said, I think it’s an awesome idea to randomly have special days interspersed throughout the year. Why can’t a husband bring his wife flowers in April or August when there is nothing special going on? It’s always fun to give or get a special note or card any time of the year. And why not use your china and have a candlelight supper sometime when there isn’t a special occasion?

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But sometimes life gets crazy and you put off that random special night… and suddenly it’s Valentine’s Day or someone’s birthday. Sometimes it’s the reminder you need to finally add a few special touches to the day.

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(Kierra wanted to use this packing paper I salvaged for them to make a V Day mural of sorts. I was so tickled by the tic-tac-toe games!)

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Last year I did a little decorating and we had a fancy little supper here at home. Kierra was so enthralled that she decided Valentine’s was her favorite time of the year- at least until her birthday and then Christmas rolled around! She had been looking forward to Valentine’s Day for quite awhile.

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That’s what’s so fun about having kids- their enthusiasm for the small things is (sometimes!) contagious. Without two little girls who love pretty things, I would be inclined to keep things simpler.

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And really, we did keep it simple- and cheap, at least on my part. For pretty much the cost of a strawberry cake mix and frosting and some chocolate chips, we had the makings of a special evening that thrilled the girls and made us happy, too.

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(the girls picked out the cake mix, the toppings, the heart-shaped pan)
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Cake. Candles. Hearts. Romantic instrumental music on Pandora. Homemade Sparkling Grape Juice. Goblets and China. What more could anyone want, really?

Well, besides a crazy family, that is!

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And seriously, the flowers Kendall bought for us didn’t hurt, either. I was secretly hoping for flowers- not in a “if you love me, you’ll buy me flowers” way, but in a “it’s been awhile and I’d like some again” kind of way. And he delivered- the roses are for me, the carnations for the girls.

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Gifts aren’t my love language, so I am never offended if Kendall doesn’t go all out- in fact, there are times that I have begged him not to get me anything, including flowers. I would rather he save money on gifts and bring home supper now and then when I just.can’t.do.it.any.more. But that makes these flowers all the more special!

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day to you all, and may you feel loved and blessed every single day of the year!

To Georgia and Back

In my last post, I stopped with the last day of January as we were traveling to Georgia. We arrived at our destination around 5:30, having left at 3:40 in the morning or so. We were so ready to be there! We did have good roads most of the way- got into traffic in a couple of cities, but at least there wasn’t snow and ice.

I didn’t really notice how different Georgia was from Ohio at first. Interstates aren’t all that unique, and we actually were on the same road most of the way down. But after we got off the interstate it was a different story. I honestly felt like I stepped into a country song!

Back when I was in the youth, some of us listened to country music a lot of the time, even though we weren’t supposed to. I hardly ever listen to it now. It’s not really my style of music- but some of my peers were really into country. I am not making a statement about the rightness or wrongness of country music, just providing some background.

However, I was constantly bombarded with scenery that mad me remember quite a few different songs. Obviously the red dirt roads caught my eye. There just isn’t anything like it around here. And the pines. It’s not like we don’t have pines around here, but these seemed different.

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“I start walkin’ your way you start walkin’ mine
we meet in the middle neath that old Georgia pine
We gain a lot of ground ’cause we both give a little
ain’t no road to long when we meet in the middle”
(http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/diamondrio/meetinthemiddle.html)

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“I’ve learned I’ve come to know
There’s life at both ends
Of that red dirt road.”
(http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/brooksdunn/reddirtroad.html)

“We laid rubber on the Georgia asphalt
We got a little crazy but we never got caught.”
(http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/alanjackson/chattahoochee.html)

These are probably the 3 songs that went through my mind the most. I decided more country songs have been written about the South than any place in the north. Does anyone sing about Ohio? And if they do, why would they? Just what would they sing about? “I spun my tires in the snow of Ohio every winter. Oh yeah! Oh yeah! It was a little crazy, but I’ve never had so much fun.” Yeah, didn’t think so!

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(pecan grove, i think. it was amazing how well planned these groves were- perfectly straight lines whichever way you looked)

I wish I would’ve taken pictures when we had time, daylight and no rain, but that just didn’t happen all at once, so I settled for taking them through the window as we flew by on our way out. I didn’t get any pictures of the reddest dirt roads, which I really wanted!

The wedding was Saturday afternoon, but we were supposed to take family pictures around 11. We weren’t really supposed to be taking pictures while the photographer was taking pictures, so I didn’t get many. And then I was too lazy to take any at the reception, so I have nothing of that. I hope someday to get a few from those who did take pictures.

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from the rehearsal- the bride and groom- Ryan and Karen

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the kids before the wedding- uncombed, they both are just curly-heads!

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with Aunt Jen

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the beautiful bride got a little cold!

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On Sunday we headed for Tennessee to met our good friends for a few days. We drove beside the Tennessee River for awhile, and it just made me think of more songs.

“Oh, Tennessee River and a mountain man,
We get together anytime we can.
Oh, Tennessee River and a mountain man,
We play together in Mother Nature’s band.”

It was just the craziest feeling to feel like I was living in a country song for a couple of days. It was fun crazy, though!

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While we were in Tennessee, it was cool and rainy the entire time. We were close to Franklin and were planning to take the kids and spend one day in Nashville, but one of the other kids got sick, and honestly, just hanging out together was good enough for us, especially since we’d been sick ourselves recently and didn’t exactly have boundless energy.

Kierra was so happy to be with her best friend. The first night they giggled and talked late into the night. When I went to bed, I poked my head in the room and told them that they should probably be going to sleep, they just laughed at me and went right on talking. The third night they were much more tired and settled down faster. The next morning Kierra couldn’t figure out why she was so tired because “We went right to sleep. We only told like 5 or 6 ghost stories and that was it.” It just made me laugh.

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all the kids watching something on netflix

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playing Uno- of course Emily just makes herself at home on the table in typically Emmy fashion!

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Kierra was heartbroken when her best friend moved hours away last summer. I don’t think most little girls have such a bond from the very young age that they became inseparable. I know I never had a friend like that when I was young. Kierra misses her terribly and looks forward to every time that they can be together again. As much fun as they have together, it makes her miss her friend so much more when we get back home. She’s been struggling with missing Rachel a lot again this week. “why can’t they live a half hour away so we can see them every week?” she wonders. I know, sweetheart. I wish for the same thing!!

We headed for home Wednesday. We had mostly good roads. It got a little snowy by the time we got to Ohio, but it didn’t slow us down too much, which was a blessing.

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The rest of the week we just tried to get back to normal and realize that no, Thursday was not Monday and the week was coming to an end. This week is the first completely normal week for awhile. It’s refreshing in that we aren’t very sick (there are some sniffles, but nothing like last month!) but it’s not without its challenges.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. The girls have spoken, and we will be celebrating here at home. What are your favorite Valentine’s Day menus?

And just a video of the song that keeps speaking to me- the video makes it even more touching. I think about it so much. I am with my girls more than anyone, and sometimes I can see the light die in their eyes when I say something I shouldn’t have or in the wrong tone of voice and it cuts me deeply, whether I will admit it at the moment or not. There was one day I was especially caustic and angry and every time I or someone else turned on the radio, this song was playing. Talk about a clear message to watch my tongue!

How do you speak life into those around you, especially those who are struggling with difficult things? I wish sometimes I would be better with words- words of life.

It Was a Long January

Can we really be 9 days into February? January was SO long, and now I blink and February is almost 1/3 over!

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(cozy fire in the fireplace)

Just a recap of January- we were sick most of the month. We started with the stomach flu which lasted less than 24 hours- but the weakness and tiredness hung on for days. Right on the heels of that came a virus that apparently was the kind that last 2-3 weeks. I can handle a bit of a cold, but having fever day after day is depressing. We barely had a social life for a month because someone was almost always sick. Today was the first all of us went to church together all year!

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(emily and her elizabeth doll in their matching clothes. i know the doll is blurry, but i love emmy’s smile and little braids!)

In the middle of this, I did get a few things done here at home. I knotted and bound a large blanket and got caught up on scrapbooking- I was almost a year behind- and made 3 dresses for a wedding. I guess it was almost 4 if you count a trial one I got mostly made to try a new pattern. So it’s not like nothing got done- there were a some days I felt fine but I was stuck at home with sick children, so what better time to get caught up on projects?

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Kendall’s brother Ryan was getting married in Georgia on February 1. When we first got sick the beginning of January, I was just glad that we’d for sure be in good health by then, but a few days before it was time to leave, I was losing faith in that. Kierra and I still were miserable with fever, and it didn’t seem to be getting better. One night I asked people on Facebook to pray for us- and many people did. The next afternoon, Kierra woke up from her nap saying she felt good- and she truly acted so much better. It took another day until my fever broke, but just in time, I was feeling good again.

I absolutely believe in the power of prayer, especially intercessory prayer. I think it’s important to have your own private prayer life, and there is power in that, but sometimes it seems that no matter how much you pray about something, nothing changes. But something especially divine can happen when you humble yourself, admit that you can’t do it on your own, and ask others to pray with you.

The instance that makes the biggest impression on me is when I was pregnant with Emily. We had lost Lauren to stillbirth at 37 weeks the year before with no warning, no known reason. Of course, it is natural to be apprehensive with subsequent pregnancies, but for the most part, I was dealing okay with it during the day. Nighttime was another story. Night after night I would have bad dreams about losing my baby in one way or the other. These dreams really upset me, but no matter how much I prayed, the nightmares continued and seriously disturbed my peace of heart, not to mention my sleep.

Finally I told a group of ladies in Sunday school what was going on, and asked them to please pray for me. I never had those nightmares again. Without those to plague me, I was able to have a measure of peace. It wasn’t that I never worried again, but it wasn’t consuming me anymore.

Kendall had a similar experience when he asked some men to pray for him a number of months after Lauren’s death when he was stuck in grief and couldn’t seem to get out of the rut he was in. He feels that was a real turning point in the grief process.

And I truly believe without our friends praying for us the other week, we wouldn’t have been feeling well for the wedding. Skeptics can write my experiences off as coincidence or mind over matter, but the fact is, I am a very cynical person by nature. Faith and trust don’t come easily for me. Sometimes I get to thinking too much and my mind gets in the way. I start questioning God and His goodness and power, but in my heart, I know He is who He says He is. There are so many things that I can’t explain, even to my satisfaction, there is so much about Him I do not know or understand. I still struggle with some things, but I know He is God and that some day we will understand Him and what He has allowed into our lives.

Anyhow, we got to the end of January with much better health than we’d had most of the month, and were able to truly enjoy our time away.

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(the crazy ones i love)

Another notable thing about January was that it was CRAZY cold! Maybe I have been living under a rock, but I never knew that schools cancel for the cold in these parts. You always get some snow days every year, but I never heard of canceling for the cold. Some schools around here apparently had quite a few cancellations for extreme temperatures. I do understand it, though. Sure, it wasn’t any colder than it gets in Minnesota or Montana or Alberta, but we just aren’t used to dressing for this kind of weather, for one. I suppose it’s a little like when Atlanta gets a skiff of snow. They aren’t equipped to deal with snow and we’re just not equipped to deal with this sort of cold. I had a very thick winter coat that I bought a number of years ago and wore once or twice. A thin coat has always sufficed. I got rid of it this summer, and guess what- my thin coat isn’t cutting it!! I have wished for that thick coat more than once this winter- the few times that we’ve been well enough to venture out! I keep hoping the cold spell is almost over so I don’t have to break down and buy a thick coat I probably won’t wear for 10 years!

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(snow rollers- Facebook was abuzz about these the other week. we only had a few, but nearby, there were more. some places had larger ones- big snowballs that no person made! http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-snow-rollers-bizzare-winter-storm-20140128,0,238995.story#axzz2ssHc5PSk. sorry about the messy link- i can’t seem to figure out how to do it right, but it’s interesting that it’s rare enough that LA Times has an article on it!)

But… I can’t complain about the cold too much since I got to be inside where it’s warm. After Kendall got some firewood for our woodburner a few weeks ago, I haven’t been cold as long as I stay inside. Also, along with the extreme cold, we’ve had more sunshine than we normally do in the winter. And honestly, that helps my mood- or it does whenever I am not sick! Last year we had rain or snow every day in January, and we rarely saw the sun. So… I guess we can’t have sunshine and warmth in the winter here!

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(one of emily’s favorite things to do is to bring us more coffee. i always hold my breath, but usually she does okay!)

The last day of January found us traveling the many, many hours to warm, sunny Georgia. Well… it wasn’t exactly sunny most of the time, and not as warm as I was hoping, but it was warmER, so that counts! Next time I will tell you a little about the wedding and my impression of Georgia!

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we had a lot of traffic in Atlanta on a Friday afternoon! but hey, at least there was no snow there anymore to cause chaos like earlier in the week!

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i just love city skylines. something about it just speaks to me. they do not call Kendall’s name, though, so we do well to make an occasional venture into a city. like VERY occasional!!

(the pictures are all from Kendall’s phone, hence the quality. my camera took a January break, but it was fun to look back at the pictures on his phone. Even though the quality isn’t the greatest, i look at them and smile because they are so real life!)

How was your January?
Have you experienced the power of people praying for you?

Memories

We went to visit my family last weekend. On Saturday, we spent the day at my brother’s new place in southern Michigan. Then we drove down and spent Sunday at my parents’ place.

Sunday afternoon, we headed home. I was driving and Kendall and the girls soon settled down to get some sleep. I drove past familiar places for the first 15 minutes. It is amazing how that little bit of familiar took me back over half a lifetime ago to a particular time and a particular happening in my life. So many memories and emotions!

As I drove through the flat farmland of eastern Indiana, I was further hit with nostalgia. I love flatness. I love to be able to see for a long way. As much as I would like to live in the city sometime (just for awhile), there is something about acres and acres of farmland with houses here and there and being able to see the sky that just gets to me.

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Out there, one can see the sky, a lot of sky. Around here, I don’t know, it just seems closed in. It’s not quite as flat and there are so many trees or something. It’s hard to describe, but it actually takes effort to notice the sunrise and sunset, and even then you only see half of it- the rest is hidden behind the trees.

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I used to love the sunsets in Indiana. When I was pretty young, maybe 10 or so, I would write little poems. There was an elderly minister at our church that I really liked, Paul Hoover. I guess he always seemed so kind and seemed to genuinely care about people, even the children. I am not sure exactly what it was, because I really didn’t know him all that well personally, other than listening to him preach now and then. Anyway, I wrote a poem about sunsets and sent it to him. I was m.o.r.t.i.f.i.e.d when he printed it in the Exchange Messenger, a monthly church paper. I resolved never to send him a poem again, because I didn’t want the whole church reading my cheesy poems. So later I tried just a letter… and that ended up in the church paper, too. I was super shy and unsocialized at that time, we lived 45 minutes from most of the church people, and were being home schooled. I never saw anyone except on Sundays. That level of exposure- people reading what I had written, people I would never have had the nerve to talk to- I was so embarrassed that I am not sure if I ever sent Paul Hoover anything again. If I did, I made sure to specify that it didn’t go into the Exchange Messenger, but I can’t really remember if I did that or not.

I actually think I can remember the poem. It can be sung to “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

Sunsets are so beautiful,
They give our hearts a thrill.
They are in the big sky,
They don’t cost a bill.
Oh we like to look at them
And their colors nice.
We can look and look at them
And never pay a price.

Oh what glories God has given
For us to look at.
They are always popping
From their habitat.

{snicker} I was only 10ish, but even then I knew this didn’t qualify as quality poetry. But hey, I got it to rhyme! Ha ha.

Anyhow, I didn’t actually remember the poem as I was driving home that evening. Writing about sunsets made me think of that.

I am glad that I don’t have to go back and relive my childhood. Some people wish they could go back and be young and carefree again, but I don’t. I guess maybe it’s because I don’t really remember being carefree. I definitely haven’t been carefree since I was 8, if ever. As much as it stinks to be an adult and face adult problems, I prefer my life now. But there are good memories, funny memories from my childhood. And I often get hit with nostalgia when I am in Indiana.

A Simple Christmas

It was one of the best Christmases ever, if not The Best. It wasn’t that anything spectacular happened. It was a relatively low key month. I don’t go crazy with baking cookies and putting up Christmas décor or anything like that because…well, it could drive me crazy! If I know that baking 49 different kinds of cookies is going to end up with me in a bad mood, feeling stressed, and yelling at my girls, then why bother? It’s not like we need more sugar at this time of the year! The same goes for those other things. I considered an advent activity, but after thinking it over, it seemed like something that would end up being overwhelming, so I decided not to. Maybe next year.

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What made this Christmas good was not because of all the amazing, heart-warming things we did, but just a deep sense that life is good, that we are blessed. 2013 brought some difficult decisions and changes, but for some reason, I look back and call it the best year we’ve had in a long time.

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It’s just so good to enjoy the small things of life. After Lauren was stillborn over 4 years ago, it was really rough for awhile. There were months of deep grief. After Emily was born, I thought things would be better, and they were for awhile, but then came months and months of hormonal problems and depression and high stress which was likely exacerbated by Emily being a high maintenance baby and toddler. A lot of the next couple years are a rather dark blur. There were plenty of good times to be sure, but it just felt like I was living under a dark cloud.

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It’s so much better now. Supplements and changing my diet helped a lot, I think. I lost 30 pounds this year, and while I was hoping for more, I am glad for the positive benefits that have accompanied that. I haven’t been exercising faithfully for too long, and I know if I am going to make it through another grey winter, I am going to need to find a way to get motivated. I trained for and ran in a 5k this year, and while I am NOT a fast runner, I found running to be amazing for my mood. It’s hard to do in the winter, though. I don’t have a good place to run right now, but I do miss it. I hope I can get back to it in the spring and maybe make another 5k one of my goals… as well as crushing my previous time!!

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I didn’t set out to write about diet and exercise. Most of the time I don’t even want to think of it! I have gotten so lazy lately and my diet is far from being on track. I have to break my sugar habit again now, because of all the holiday treats! Anyway, my point is that overall, I feel so much better than I did for so long, mentally and physically. I can tell that it’s winter, though. I always feel worse in the winter.

So yes, our simple Christmas was perfect. We got together with Kendall’s family at a cabin in November, and we were at my brother’s place last weekend with my family minus the sister in Belize who we really missed. We opened our gifts on Christmas eve while enjoying the warm fireplace, and then had the ones of Kendall’s family that were around and not working for lunch on Christmas day, which netted a few more presents, much to the delight of our girls. We have one more family gathering next week and that’s it for the holidays.

I am looking forward to the year ahead. I haven’t made any official New Year’s resolutions, at least not yet, but I would like to make a few this year that I can work toward. I don’t make absolutes like “I won’t eat any junk food for a year” or “I will not lose my temper in 2014” but I want to make progress in areas like that. I find that when I make small goals to meet on the way to an ultimate goal (such as weight loss) I feel motivated when I reach the small goal to keep going toward the next one.

I will leave you with a few Christmas pictures.

I bought a gingerbread house kit because there was no way I was gonna make one from scratch. It actually tasted good, but I wasn’t fond of the candy included… or my gingerbread decorating skills. Oh wait! I could just say the girls put it together by themselves, and that’s why it’s not perfect. Yes, that’s the story I will go with! {cough, cough!} Oh well, they were happy!

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These girls are only 3 months apart. They had a lot of fun together. 100_8370

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Christmas eve… I found the camera out in the cold vehicle, so it didn’t cooperate very well for picture taking. Not that it ever cooperates that well. I would buy a new camera if I wasn’t so confused about what to buy for what I want. There are too many options!

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We got a Bible for Emily. She was beyond thrilled. That was easily her favorite gift. The second best was a knock-off Doc McStuffin-ish coloring book!100_8405

Christmas day they got almost more gifts than they did Christmas eve from us. It doesn’t take much to make them happy, so they were thrilled. I think they got way more than enough!!

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And that pretty much wraps up the year for us.  Only 5 more days left until a brand new year. I am looking forward to it!

November

If I had to use one word to describe this week so far, it would be “coughing.” All of us. I was the last to succumb as we’ve canceled activities day after day.

It’s so hard for me to know when to keep children home, but when they are coughing so much they are driving me crazy, I figure at the very least, they’d annoy everyone else, too. So we’ve been pretty much homebound all week. It could be worse. Fortunately, stay at home moms who homeschool have a fair amount of flexibility- at least I find it that way. The world won’t end if Emily misses story time at the library, for example!

Emily had a birthday last week. We’ve made it through 3 crazy years! We just had a quiet celebration at home, and she didn’t seem to mind. Her “real gift” didn’t come until yesterday, so the excitement stretched out a little longer.100_8273

Even when we keep things really simple, or especially when we do, I like to do something special like use the good dishes for a birthday meal. The girls love the goblets, especially, and always make sure they clink the glasses together before drinking.

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Emily especially loved her birthday balloon!

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I was not thrilled with how this “simple” cake turned out, and I couldn’t find smaller gumballs anywhere, but Emily is only 3, and she was perfectly happy with it, so that’s all that matters.

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Earlier this month, we spent a weekend with Kendall’s family at a cabin a couple hours away. It was all fun and games until the girls got sick in the middle of the night. I never heard that anyone else got sick, so I think it was probably eating too much of the wrong things, especially for Emily, who was the sickest.  She doesn’t do good with self-control (in a lot of areas!). If she sees food and no one stops her, she’ll eat it.

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Grandma and the kids made little chocolate mice.

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cute little nephews

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Kendall’s mom brought a cake along for the fall birthdays. Then the grandsons wanted a picture with the cake, too. Dear little Emmy didn’t get her face into the cake on purpose, she really didn’t! But I have a feeling she’ll get herself into lots of things over the next years-that’s just her nature!

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There are 4 grandchildren on this side of the family so far- ages 6, 3, almost 4, and almost 2. There’s another grandchild that should be here any day now- we’re waiting for that phone call!

There will soon be 8 grandchildren on my side of the family. 6 years ago, Kierra was the only grandchild on both sides. A few years make a lot of difference- if we can persuade more of the brothers and sisters to consider marriage and parenthood, there could be a lot, lot more in 6 more years! Ha ha! I have 4 unmarried siblings and Kendall has 7, although there’s a wedding coming up soon there! Our 2 youngest siblings will both be 16 in a couple months. That’s hard to believe. My youngest sister was 4 when I moved away. These little kids are growing up!

I will leave you with a crazy  picture from our recent family photo shoot, one that isn’t going to be on our Christmas cards. This is so typical of Emily- she really does give the best hugs! I find it amusing how Emily makes it look like Kierra isn’t even very close to me, and in fact, she’s snuggled right in there, too!

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I love my girls!

(sorry about the weird spacing- wordpress does that on its own- it looks fine when I draft it. if you know what I am doing wrong, let me know, okay?)