Saturday, December 31, 2011

When Two Dorks Collide

The following conversation happened last night as Jeff and I were climbing into bed. I'm fussing over the covers and Jeff is poking fun at me for being so picky about it. I've recorded this nearly verbatim.

Me, in a mock-serious tone: "I just can't sleep with the blanket all wadded up three feet in the air right under my chin while my feet and legs are completely exposed! I am a blanket socialist. I demand even distribution of the blanket! Every night I have to take the blanket from you and lay it out evenly."

Jeff: "Well, I'm a blanket capitalist and I say that whoever CAN gets to have the blanket. Maybe I'll be the socialist government and keep all the blanket and let you have what I think you deserve!"

Me, in righteous indignation: "That's it - I'm Occupying this bed! ... Capitalist pig."

Well ... maybe you had to be there, but we were in tears from laughter by the end of our little comedy routine. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Ornaments

I posted last year about how we get each of the children a new ornament every year for our Christmas tree. The idea is that when I let them move out they'll have a box of 32 ornaments to take to their new homes! (Just kidding.) Anyway, I made their ornaments this year, using ceramic stars purchased for $0.69 at a craft store, plus scrapbook paper and clear acrylic sealer. It was fun, easy, and super-cheap since the only things I bought specifically for this project were the stars and the paper. Total: $3.25 for all three ornaments!

I painted their initials using a thin brush and acrylic paint - after the "Mod-Podge" dried, and before applying the sealer.

I used the same piece of paper for Kaity and Selah's ornaments, just cut them out of different areas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Last Sunday night, our college people surprised us with presents! I received a beautiful new slow cooker ...

It's programmable!

I've already used it to cook up some chicken and it works perfectly! The insert is metal with a non-stick surface which cleans up like a dream.

And Jeff received a basket of our favorite coffee, two handsome coffee mugs, and some of his favorite candy!

We are so very thankful for our college people! They are a blessing to us in many ways. Thank you, everyone, for these wonderful gifts!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Playing Outside

Our kids love to play outside. It would be nice to have a better place for them to play, but we work with what we have.
My parents gave Kaity Rollerblades for her birthday and she has really enjoyed them! She gets better and better the more she practices.

Selah sobs and clings to the doorknob when the kids go outside without her. Other than riding her car, her favorite activity is going to see our neighbor's little dogs, Daisy and Bella.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kaity, Joe and Selah

Our three kids are just like everyone else's, I'm sure. They bicker and fuss and get on each other's nerves now and then, but mostly they love one another. Selah always wants to be where the big kids are, which is fine 85% of the time. The other 15% she's getting into the middle of whatever they're doing or climbing all over them and I hear, "Mo-om, can you come get SAY-lah?" (Because that's how they always say it when they're frustrated with her, exaggerating the first syllable!) I know Joe's particularly irritated when I hear her shrieking with laughter and Joe says, "SAY-luh-UH!"

Joe's sweet nature and Selah's snuggliness are a good match.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Gifts

We have done a few things to help our kids focus on a Christmas that emphasizes Christ. While we cannot expect the lost around us to give any attention to a God they do not serve, we can do all that we can to use this opportunity to share the Good News of the Christ who came and is coming again. I'm listing some of the things we have done this year and in the past in hopes you'll be inspired in new ways just as others have inspired us!

** One thing our children enjoy about the Christmas season is all the lights. There is a particular street in our town with beautiful old homes that go all out with pretty greenery and light displays. This year, we packaged homemade cookies up with a card and delivered them door to door to each of these 6 homes. Inside the card Kaity wrote a short note telling them how much our family enjoyed their lights each year and thanking them. We included a couple of scriptures sharing the Light of the world:
"For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6 (ESV)

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 (ESV)
** The kids do extra chores to earn money to buy gifts to place inside Operation Christmas Child boxes. They love shopping for the items! This year, Kaity participated with the youth group at our church to help pack the boxes and prepare them for shipping. The gospel is included in the appropriate language in each box.

** Our church partners with our county's Department of Family and Children Services to help provide Christmas for foster children. Sunday School classes sponsor one or more children by purchasing gifts from the children's wish lists. Our college/singles class provided for a 17 year old girl this year.

** Gifts to our kids are moderate. In addition to not having much money to spend, our children have plenty as it is. (They're blessed with generous, loving grandparents, too!) We have a tradition of giving them new pajamas, one thing they've really wanted, something they'll share (like a game), plus a few little things we think they'll enjoy to go in their stockings.

** We do whatever it takes to be able to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Missions hold a special place in our hearts and we're happy to give in support of our missionaries. This year our church is collecting cans to recycle as part of our effort to give.

Friday, December 16, 2011

NOT A Christmas Tradition

And now, what's NOT a Christmas tradition:

Jeff and I have never taught our kids about Santa Claus. I mean, they know the traditions and the folk tales and the history, but we've never perpetuated the idea. Our reasoning has always been that we have a loving Heavenly Father who showers us daily with blessings, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, from whom comes "every good and perfect gift" ... Truly, generosity, love and joy are hallmarks of a life lived in submission to the Holy Spirit and we don't want to take away from that by confusing them with a different, make-believe entity who is supposed to embody those traits as well. We understand that others disagree, but this is simply what we've chosen for our family. We have been convicted to focus solely on the coming of the Messiah, the Christ child who came in humility to be born, to live a sinless life, to die on the cross, to be raised again so that we might have eternal life.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:1, 14 (ESV)

A note: Our children are instructed not to discuss the truth about Santa with other kids out of respect for their parents' choice to include him in their Christmas traditions.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Traditions, Part 3

I posted Parts 1 & 2 last year, and this year is more or less a continuation of that. We continued this year with our advent calendar made of stockings:

Daddy, Kaity, Joe, Selah, Mommy

As I did last year, I used mini Christmas tree ornaments that depict the Nativity along with scripture in some of the stockings. Here's a list of the scripture I used with the coordinating figurines:

Luke 2:1-3 - Decree (I had to DIY a tiny scroll for the decree!)
Luke 2:4-5 - Joseph and Mary
Luke 2:6-7 - Jesus and stable
Luke 2:8 - Shepherd and sheep
Luke 2:9-20 - Angels
Matthew 2:1-12 - Star and wise men

I filled in the rest of the stockings with Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. I found inspiration for those at Prayer of Hannah in a blog post written by my friend Leah.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Family Snapshot

Here are some family pictures that Berk took for us this weekend ...

My beautiful babies!

Silly picture!

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Back When I Was A Kid ...

... we didn't have any fancy dishwashers like you whippersnappers have today!" Actually, they had been invented, we just never had one. And now that ours broke, we don't have one, either. When I was a kid, my big brother Stuart and I would take turns washing and rinsing. We hated the chore, but were determined to make the time pass more quickly by having fun at it. More often than not, one would read aloud while the other worked, trading off back and forth. Or we'd play word games, like the Alphabet Game. We'd pick a category like cars or animals and take turns, each naming items in alphabetical order. We also played a game called "Stadt, Land, Fluß" - where we'd have to name a city, country, and body of water that started with a particular letter. Another favorite was where we'd say a word and the other person had to come up with a song that contained that word. We'd also do a similar game with a phrase from a song, and the other one had to sing the song.

And now my children are beginning to know the joy of a life spent standing at the sink, elbow-deep in sudsy water.

Waiting for Joe to come rinse ...

Even Selah likes to get in on the action when we let her!

I just realized that these pictures make it seem like Kaity is always washing, but they do take turns!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Three Amigos

My three little lovelies certainly have their moments! Just the other day they were wrestling around on the couch being silly. I don't know where they get that!

Joe's pretending to be asleep, and Selah is pretending to bite Kaity.

They have so much fun together!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Visit With Granny

I have an incredible backlog of pictures to share! I really should post more often so this doesn't happen ... Anyway, today I'm sharing the pictures from our visit to Granny's a couple of weeks ago. I didn't get snapshots of everyone we saw, but we were blessed to be able to see a lot of our family on "the Hill", including Uncle Donnie, Aunt Cindy, Eric, Aunt Belinda, Uncle Linwood, Uncle Ray, Aunt Glenda ...

Selah with her cousin Jarrett, my cousin Jessica's son. (Jarrett is a few months older than Selah.) Despite being toddlers, they got along immediately! This picture was taken just moments after their meeting.

Joe got a haircut from Uncle Ray! He desperately needed it. Joe is also in that stage where he will not just act naturally for pictures. I plan to mark these for use in future blackmail.

Selah and Jarrett, again! They had been separated and were SO glad to see each other.

Jessica with her younger daughter, Abby.

Abby and Jarrett's big sister, Kiley Joe. (She a few months older than Joe.)

Granny and Selah!

Hugs with Granny and her namesake.

Kaity, Joe, Granny, and Ali-cat.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Daddy's Little Helper

"Whatcha doooin'?"

"No, Daddy, you need the floozle to attach the whatsit to the thingamajigger."

"Here, I'll take 'er for a spin to test it out."

"Woo-hoo! I can't believe Daddy let me drive!"

"Um, Mommy, you're kind of in my way."

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Three Cute Things - Selah Edition

1. Selah has learned to roar. It's indescribably adorable. She leans over, squinches up her face and says, "Rawr!" with her mouth wide open. Then she giggles and shrieks because she amuses herself so much. You are required to roar back, which also makes her giggle.

2. Selah did Pilates with me today. SO. CUTE. The kids were squealing and admiring her, so she really hammed it up.

3. At lunch, I asked Kaity to ask the blessing. Just as we bowed our heads and got still and quiet, Selah hollered, "Cake-oo!" which is how she says, "Thank you!" We knew it was a coincidence, but it was precious nonetheless.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mini Jeni

It's no secret that Kaity is a lot like her Mama. I got a sweet and funny confirmation of that last week in the form of an e-mail from a friend:
"Last Sunday, we had to combine Sunday School classes b/c there were so few 6th grade girls. So the 6th graders joined our 7th and 8th graders and we started the lesson. This one young lady seemed very excited to be there, loved to read Scripture for the class and knew how the lesson ended right as we began reading it. Her manner seemed familiar but I couldn't quite place her. Finally it hit me-this HAS to be Jeni's daughter and it was! She is just like you!! Her face, her mannerisms was Jeni Pittard and it was remarkable to see that. Katie is such a sweet girl and I loved meeting her."
That's our girl! 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Happy Birthday, Kaity!

Today is Kaity's birthday! I know every parent always says it, but man, has time flown by! I can hardly believe our little Kaitlyn Grace is eleven. She and Joe stayed the night with Jeff's parents Friday night, and yesterday they came home to a birthday celebration. I lined the kitchen doorway with 11 balloons and pink crepe paper, with a birthday card from Mommy and Daddy and one from Joe hanging down. Each balloon was stuffed with a dollar bill! We gave Kaity our copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and then drove her crazy all evening asking, "What part are you on now?" and then quoting parts of it to her. That gave her ample opportunity to think, while rolling her eyes and giggling, "My parents are such nerds!"

For dinner, I served one of Kaity's favorites, Chicken Tetrazzini. Then we played Clue while eating Pumpkin Monkey Bread (SO incredibly good!). I made Butterbeer, a drink from the Harry Potter series, that's a concoction of cream soda, butterscotch syrup and whipped cream. It was yummy!

Kaity is truly a joy in our lives. A baby who captivated us, a toddler who delighted us, a little girl who charmed us, and growing into a young lady of whom we can be proud! And who wouldn't be proud of a daughter who leaves messages like this on your fridge?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Toddler Tips

I'm not one to give out parenting advice, for sure, but I do know after three kids what has worked for me. I'm not by nature a patient person by any means, and I think that's why I strongly dislike working with groups of children. There's always so much noise and confusion, and they, frankly, get on my nerves! God has done a great deal of work with me, though, and I've learned a fair amount over the years about how to handle little ones. You'll notice most of my solutions involve laughter or taking a break. It works for me!

Picky, Picky - A toddler who suddenly becomes picky may not be as picky as you think! Instead of immediately offering different foods until something strikes their fancy, leave them alone with it. Give them the proper utensil, the food, their cup, and walk away to the sink to wash dishes. Or wipe down the counters. Or clean out the fridge. My little ones have always responded to that. Sometimes they just want a little independence. As long as they're not throwing food, let them make a mess! It will clean up.

Cranky Pants? - You know how it is - one minute they're playing happily and the next second they're clinging to the moving target of your legs, whining and fussing, nothing makes them happy! You try reading a book only to have it tossed on the floor. You try to snuggle them only to have them fight their way back down. If they are well-fed and have already napped, then I have the never-fail solution! Lay down on the floor. Yes, you. There is not a baby/toddler/child alive who can resist a parent lying on the floor. Selah goes from snit to smiles in 0.2 seconds flat. She rushes over an climbs on my belly/back to bounce and hear Mommy grunt every time!

Hyperactive? - Sometimes toddlers just have to burn off some excess energy! If at all possible, let them go outside! (Supervised, of course.) Even if it's cold or the weather isn't perfect, it's nice to get out of the house to get some fresh air now and then. While you're out there, play chase, toss a ball back and forth! If you're inside, get down on all fours and chase them. For a bonus, capture all the shrieks and giggles with a recording device!

Flat getting on your nerves? - Walk away. It's better to take a time-out for yourself than to speak or act out of anger or frustration. If you have older children, maybe it's time they spent 30 minutes to an hour supervising the little one. Leave the little one in their crib with toys/books for a bit. Put a baby gate in their doorway and let them play safely in their room alone. Trust me, you'll be a better mom if you take the time to keep calm. While in "time-out", have a quick snack, pray for patience, call your husband or a friend and chat for a few minutes, put on praise music, read a psalm, text someone to pray for you, or go for a short, brisk walk outside around the house.

"This too, shall pass." - What you're dealing with is a stage. They will not be this way, act this way, forever. Consistently discipline, love, love, love, "fight the good fight, keep the faith", "do not grow weary in well-doing", persevere. 10 years, 5 years, 1 year, a month from now life will be different than it is now, with old struggles simply a memory ... and new challenges taking their place! It truly helps to keep things in perspective.