Monday, December 26, 2011

Homemade Christmas 2012

This year I decided to make it a homemade Christmas.  For years I have been wanting to really do this, dig in, find lots of ideas, and then actually do it.  I felt that we accomplished a lot of what I had planned to do and it was so fun crafting with the kids, making projects with Trent and staying up late working like one of Santa's elves!  I hope that everyone that received one of our homemade with love gifts, enjoys them as much as we enjoyed making them!

I found this printable on the internet and had it printed as a picture.  Then I put it in a frame and gave to family and friends.
The boys drew pictures and Penny scribbled on some paper or I traced her hand and then modge podge the pictures onto small white tiles to make coasters.  We then added felt to the bottom and gave them many clear coats of paint.  Wrapped with festive Christmas fabric bows and sent them on their way.

I modge podged a picture frame with wrapping paper and added a bow.

Hand painted R2D2 ornament for Charlie

Hand painted Boba Fett ornament for Tommy

The Symbols of Christmas tin
Altoid tins decorated with felt and filled with homemade magnets

Magnets made from clear stones, pictures from magazines glued to stones and then magnet glued on the back.

Hand painted train ornament for a friend
Notepad made from clear picture frame, sheet music printed from the internet that was put inside the frame and a post it glued to the front.  I ran out of time and next time would add more embellishment.
Homemade candy cane playdough in spaghetti sauce jars that we have been saving, wrapped in festive fabric and a cookie cutter tied to the top.  

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

Penny's hand print snowman ornament
Christmas of yesteryear
The ONLY reason we celebrate.  The birth of our Lord and Savior!
Command station, aka dining room table...just keeping it real people!
Santa nesting dolls Nana gave us...LUV!
Christmas cards
Santa WAS here!
Gingerhead cookies for Charlie's Christmas class party
Homemade box of magnets for teachers and friends
R2D2 ornament I painted for Charlie

It is beginning to looked a lot like Christmas.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Funny things they say

While watching the Disney movie Pocahontas, John Smith refers to Pocahontas and her people as "savages".  Charlie says "savages, like the kind you can eat from the garden" (cabbage)

Sammie our cat was sleeping with Tommy one night.  Tom came downstairs complaining, but not crying that Sam had bitten him.  I asked if he was being nice to Sam and he said "yeaaaaah" NO!  Then he said "Sammy bite me.  He thinks I am yummy for breakfast".

Every Sunday after church Daddy makes us pancakes, eggs and bacon.  One Sunday we were just sitting down and Charlie was munching away on some bacon.  "I never knew that a dirty pig could taste so good".  Had us both rolling!!

While watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and the Island of the Misfit Toys, better known in our house as the "Toy Stealer" movie, Charlie pipes up "Momma,  girl elves don't make the toys at Santa's workshop.  They just tell the boy elves what to make".   Smart boy :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Servant's Heart

 For the last 2 or 3  years we have filled boxes for Samaritans Purse, Operation Christmas Child. And with each year that we participate we are blessed even more.
 Over the year I had saved odds and ends of little toys, party favors, extra crayons, etc.  It really helped to fill the boxes to the brim this year!  Each year we also go to the dollar store and the boys pick out several items for "their" buddies box.  This year the boys had been saving some of their chore money for this exact purpose.  I think they each had $4 dollars to spend and they were very careful on their choices.  Tommy knew right away that his "buddy" would love a truck and a Spider Man tooth brush.  Charlie choose a purple squigey porcupine ball and a tooth brush pack that had 2 tooth brushes in it.  He reasoned that his "buddy" would probably like the Spiderman tooth brush better, but this way he would have a toothbrush to share or just an extra one.  I was amazed at how thoughtful Charlie was this year.  He really got it!
This year we also included a letter to our "buddy" and our address.   We were told that often the children will write back to the family that donated the box.  We also registered our boxes online so we will know what part of the world our boxes went to.

I love doing activities like this with our children.  To teach them that it is always better to give then receive.  To show them how privileged we are as a family and a nation and that most of the world does not live like we do.  That we need to be mindful of those around us, help when we can, even if that means to say a prayer for someone. 

These are the moments that I hope are etched into our children's hearts.  These are the memories that I pray they will one day cherish for I know that I truly do!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Answered Prayer

I am not sure how to even begin writing this post.  I am flooded by so many emotions and feelings from the happenings of the last few days.  All of which have come to fruition this evening, leaving me grateful, overwhelmed, sad, humbled, in awe, feeling powerless, raw, and full of love.

Last month I said a prayer, a simple prayer really, asking God to show me a family or individual that we as a family could help.  Then I went on my way and didn't give it much more thought.  With Christmas approaching we have done are normal charity/service projects and being the chair of community service at Charlie's school, I began to put a list together of other ways we could serve those around us.

Then I got a phone call from my mom one day.  I heard the despair in her voice and the tears in her eyes.  She spoke of a family that was renting from her.  A single mom with 4 children. Over the years we have heard hundreds of very sad stories of her tenants, each with their unique set of circumstances.  But this family was different for her and for me.

I thought, what can I do?  There wasn't  a lot in our budget to put towards this family, but I knew that if I was going to try and help them that I could not do it alone.  So, I posted on face book a simple list of some of their immediate needs and asked if people could help we would really appreciate it. I also emailed 2 friends that are not on facebook.

Within a few hours I had a friend donate one of the twin mattresses.  The next day another friend bought a brand new mattress and gave a gift card to a grocery store for $200.  Another friend, who is unemployed as is her husband and they have 3 little children, dropped off brand new dishes, silverware, a gift for each of the 4 children and mother, blankets etc.  The day after that another friend said her church had given her $200 to go grocery shopping for the family.  The gifts just came pouring in, filling our basement.  My mom bought a table and chair set for the family, toys for the kids, a few kitchen items.  I went to the Salvation Army and bought the best 2 sets of twin sheets I could find and a Calphalon pot for $3!!!!!  I also drove by the dollar store and picked up some everyday items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, Christmas candy, spatula, strainer etc. I dug through our blankets and found 2 nice bedspreads that we never use and 2 new pillows that just sit in our linen closet.  The boys each picked out a book to add to our growing donation pile and we talked a lot about why all this "stuff" was in our house.

Out of the donations and the odds and ends from our home I put together a stocking for each of the family members and a gift bag full of goodies.  I wrapped some of the gifts so that the little ones would have the fun of ripping paper to see what surprise was inside.  I had so much fun putting everything together, trying to make it special for them.

I felt God's presence with each phone call and with each donation.  This is what I had prayed for and it was right before my feet. Even if the mom sold the mattresses for crack (as someone suggested, and believe me, I had thought it as well), that didn't matter.  What mattered was that people, Christians and non, were coming together to help a family that was truly in NEED.  That despite our own financial struggles we were digging deep to help a family that had/has FAR less then any of us do.  And if in our acts of service, just one of those children or the mother alike, could feel the love of Jesus' then it was all worth it!

My mom had told me that they literally had nothing, but I was no where prepared for what I saw.  All of their possession could fit in my kitchen.  They had 2 full beds (for 5 people), a leather couch that was literally falling apart, an old hutch that was beaten and worn and housed the smallest tv I have ever seen, and a small round kitchen table but no chairs.  They were eating out of 2 bowls, if you want to call them that....they were empty tubs of butter and they had two or three pieces of silverware.  There was not a picture to be seen, no children's art work hung on the fridge, no rugs on the floor, not a toy or book to be seen. It was as if no one lived there. Certainly not 4 children.

Forever etched in my heart are the eyes and smiles of those children.  So sweet and innocent, so grateful, so BEYOND grateful.  A truck that my boys haven't played within in months became their treasure.  The 4 year old carried around a stuffed elephant that I had given her in one arm and her new Dora bowl in the other.  The little boys clung to the Transformer my mom bought him as he helped carry in the items from the car.  The mother couldn't stop crying or asking what she had done to deserve this blessing.  The gratitude was on their faces, in their eyes and felt through their many hugs.

To God be the glory!  Once again He orchestrated a mighty plan and put into motion a gathering of people to help a family in desperate need of help.  I am  humbled and grateful.

Bat Boy

 This boy has some serious imagination.  And some serious love for anything dress up.  He recently saw a Batman costume in a catalog and decided to make his own.  I helped draw the bat and mask, and he did all the coloring, cutting and acting.
Look out world!  Here comes Bat Boy

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Opening presents

Such a girlie girl, she was so proud of herself

She wanted her fuzzy socks on right away.


 *Our girl turned 1 on Nov 1.
*I can barely believe it. I think I am in denial actually.
*Penny is at such a cute and fun stage right now.  
*I am just loving every minute with her!
*Her first word is "Hi" and says it whenever she sees someone including the cat and dog.  And she not only says it with the sweetest little voice, but does so while giving you the biggest grin and waving her pudgy little fingers.
* I am a little late on writing this, I just couldn't bring myself to do it :)  But on November 15th, she actually crawled on all fours.  She has been doing the "army crawl" for the longest time.  She has gotten up on her knees and rocked back and forth but wouldn't take that first "crawl" until now.  And by the time I actually got around to posting this, she is crawling now more then doing the "army crawl".  But her favorite of mode of transportation is walking everywhere.  She has not taken any independent steps but loves for you to hold her hands and cruise the house.
*On 11/15 decided it was time to make the long crawl up the stairs!  Last week she made it up the first step but was hesitant to go any further.  I think Tommy coaching her from the top of the stairs and me holding onto her from the back of her shirt, gave her the incentive to make journey.  She was so proud of herself and so were Tommy and I!  We have entered a whole new era of baby proofing around here!
*At 11 months I weaned her from nursing and in a rather short period of time but she did great! I think it helped greatly that only Daddy fed her for about 2 weeks or so.  But now I am back to giving her bottles and enjoying our snuggles.  I truly miss nursing her, but I know that we had such a good run.  Nursing Penny was never complicated or difficult.  It came so naturally and I never worried about whether she was eating enough or not.  I fed her on demand for 11 months and truly enjoyed that time I spent with her.  It was a wonderful experience and I feel so blessed to have been able to do that for her as nursing has never been that effortless for me before!
*Penny loves to read books and her favorite lovie is a small teddy bear that we call Ted.
*She is still infatuated with her brothers and loves to play with them. Now that she is bigger they hold her under her arms and try to walk her around (with supervision!) and she loves to wrestle with them.
* The funniest thing about Penny is how "girlie" she already is.  The boys could care less about what they wear, but Penny gets all excited when I show her what she is wearing for the day.  She LOVES headbands and bows.  My Aunt sent her a pink shirt for her birthday and immediately after opening it, Penny put it on her head (she was trying to put it on) and had a huge smile, like "look at me and my pretty shirt".  She also loves shoes...I have a feeling we are really going to be in for it!
*She is eating really well and is far less picky then she was.  She still takes a bottle before both naps (I think in the next month or so she will be down to one nap, by 13 months she is pretty much down to one nap), before bed and usually wakes up again 2 times before morning, 7:30am.  She is also sleeping better with stretches of 5-6 hours.  Trent and I now share night duty so that I can catch up on a little sleep.  He is such a wonderful Daddy and has taken such good care of her and all the kiddos!

As of 13 months she is babbling a lot and actually trying to put words together.  She says Dada, Mom, Ni Ni (night, night), Nissss (nice), she grunts and tries to bark like a dog. She blows kisses, waves high, gives big hugs to Mama and loves to give nosies and butterfly kisses.

Dear Sweet Penny,
   I can't believe it has been a year since we were blessed to see your sweet face for the first time.  I knew immediately that you and I would be the bestest of friends and that God had graced us with your presence.  You are truly a gift and I thank God for your precious life.  Daddy and I love you so very much.  We have vowed to stand beside you and support you, to always be there for you!  There is nothing more important to us then you and your sweet brothers.  You bring such a tenderness to our home and can settle even your wild boys with your adorable smile and laugh.  You are our answered prayer and we love you dearly.

Forever and Always!
Daddy and Mommy

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Halloween 2011

We had a weekend of Halloween fun!  On Friday, Charlie had his school parade and Halloween party.  We were all able to be there and watch our little Luke Sky Walker act the part.  As soon as he saw us he started doing all of his Jedi moves.  It was so funny!

Even Darth and Cupcake dressed up for the parade.  Heck, we don't miss an opportunity to celebrate Halloween!
Tommy's school had their parade and party on Halloween morning.

We were both a little bummed because they said no masks, so Darth couldn't be in full costume.  Clearly they didn't adhere to that rule.  Next time I will make sure to bring the mask! But Tommy was SUPER psyched to have a buddy dressed up as Boba Fett.

My sweet boy even ran up and gave me a big hug.  He was so proud of himself and excited!

And then there was Halloween night.  The time we had been planning, preparing and counting down to for months!!  Costumes had been decided on and then minds were changed , last minute adjustments made.  In the end our Star Wars fellas were a hit.  Luke Sky Walker, Darth Vader and the Emperor.  We all agreed that next year we are all going as a theme.  Wouldn't Penny be the cutest little Leia?

 We had so much fun! Tommy was unusually terrified of the "chain saw guy".  He literally has been talking about this guy since last Halloween and even asked for a chainsaw for Christmas...and got one :)  I think that last year the "chainsaw guy" was a little more aware of the little guys and eased off his scariness....NOT this year though.  Charlie was really brave though and faced off with the "chainsaw guy".  Tommy was pretty impressed by that!  Despite the terror of it all, Tom says he wants to go back next year.

It was a great Halloween!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Down on the Farm

Tommy our little farmer
The theme at Tommy's school has been down on the farm.

Nana and Tommy
He and Nana went on a field trip with his classmates to one of our favorite places, Lakefarm Park.  They got to see all kinds of animals and even took a ride on a tractor pulled wagon!
Tom grooming the miniature horse

Tom in the greenhouse at the farm

Tommy milking a cow
At school the kids made a shape tractor
Shape Tractor
a scarecrow.  I love the eyes on the scarecrow that Tommy drew.  He said it was me, because it was cute.  I also thought he did a great job on cutting out all the shapes for his tractor.  He was really proud of them both.
At home we also did some farm themed activities to tie into what they are doing at school.  I printed out a fun farm unit and Tommy enjoyed helping the animals get back to the barn.  We played a dice and graph game together and Tom matched animals and the products that they make.

Tractor puzzle and matching game
Prewriting practice, graph game and counting numbers

The highlight was making our own scarecrow.  Tommy was really into to it and Charlie was really into wrestling with the poor guy. Penny had fun picking at the scarecrows eyes and nose.  It was a lot of fun!