The Best & the Worst Christmas of 2017

Yeah. You read that right.

Our trip to Kansas for a week of family get-togethers and my best friend’s wedding was easily…

The Best & the Worst Trip to Kansas In History.

But it did begin before that.

About two months ago, the kids and I came down with a doozie of a head cold. And it didn’t leave. For me, it turned into a sinus problem that seriously interfered with my sleep abilities. Finally, after a week or two of torture, it left. A week later we got another cold. Honestly, it all runs together in my brain by now. All I know is that about three weeks ago I came down with another cold. And it is still–as I speak–being kicked out of my sinuses. I don’t remember ever having a sinus infection like this. Some nights I got almost no sleep. I would get up, walk around, worship with music for hours, drink tea, and still not be able to sleep. My sinuses being completely closed, I could not sleep breathing the dry, winter air through my mouth. I would wake up and barely be able to close my mouth. Pain. I cried. I prayed. I lifted my hands to God… Ya know, I have kids to take care of. I had a week-long trip to prepare for. I lost my taste buds. For weeks I could taste almost nothing. I lost weight faster than I have in years. 

I am all up for healthy home remedies. But being honest, I have taken more Vitamin C and Vitamin A than you can begin to imagine–the best brands of Vitamin C did nothing. I have eaten garlic. I have drank fresh ginger juice by the quart. I have used essential oils. I did kefir. Probiotics. We finally began to suspect mold, and with some sleuthing, Craig found that the ground under our pier and beam house is very wet. So we are going to remedy that. But there was more than that going on…

I say this at the risk of being misunderstood and maybe ticking a few people off. Sorry in advance. 🙂

Some people in our church, who are very tuned in to God’s voice did a lot of praying for me/us. What they learned was that I was being attacked by the devil for some really amazing things that we had worked on and been freed from in the past months. The attack was sent to wear me down, steal, kill, and destroy what God had done. That made all the sense in the world to us. The things that have come about in our hearts and lives in just the past month have been beyond incredible. So Craig and I stood up and said, no, we will not sit down and scream at God. We will not let go of the good that God has done. We will put our armor on and stand.

Didn’t mean it was easy. The hard stuff went on…and on. I prepared for our trip the best I could, with my brain feeling as though it was in a fog. Thankfully, I only forgot a few things I needed to pack!

We went to Kansas, thinking that maybe the cold will clear up after we get out of our house and the possible mold factor. It didn’t. The entire time we were there, I had a miserable sinus infection. I tasted almost no food the entire time. Often my sinus’ were so tightly shut that my head pounded. I just pushed through it and did my best, but there were definite moments when I wanted to give up. It’s just that there was nowhere to go to give up. You can’t get away from yourself. (Insert crying and laughing emoji.)

We spent the first couple days with my family. All of us were in Kansas except for my brother Joe, his wife, and three darling girls who live in Kenya. We missed them so much! But it was sooo awesome to be with my family again! They are an awesome group. We had a lot of fun. And good discussions!

I somehow got lots of pics of my dad with my kids… 🙂 

My family is quite talented with painting and drawing. Here there is a painting party going on!

This fun happened between a horrible stomach virus that caught many of my family through those days. Every morning we’d get up and check the chat group on facebook to see who had puked their guts out the night before. We felt powerless in the face of this virus. We had traveled to Kansas to be with family. We couldn’t just…not be with them! So we hung out with whoever wasn’t sick at the moment. On Sunday we were finally all together. 🙂 Such a lovely New Year’s Eve day we had at my sister’s house! No, being Kuepfers, we did not stay up late and watch it in. Haha! But the whole day was so good.

Saturday was my best friend’s wedding. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful wedding. I was positively miserable that day with my sinus infection, but was just so grateful I could be there! I had to cry as my lovely friend walked up the aisle and met her fiance at the alter. Norma and I have walked through so much together and she is amazing. She will be such a lovely wife. 

Monday was a bit of a catch-up day. You know, relax and prepare for the next family fun. Tuesday kicked off Craig’s family Christmas! Both of our families are in similar stages of life. My family has 13 adults and Craig’s has 10. Both of our families have loooots of little kids with Bomani being the oldest at 7. Craig’s family has 7 babies age 2 and under! In fact, we had a terrible time getting our large family picture taken because there was always at least one baby sleeping! Haha! Finally the last evening we managed. 🙂 Picture to come later after The Story Pro edits and prepares it. 🙂

We had really good times just hanging out together. We didn’t do as much of the game playing, singing, and other activities that are always on the list. This was partly because of sickness and partly (or mostly) because of all the babies in our lives right now! 🙂 

Getting to know cousins who live far away!

Love.

Hair combing party.

Love.

People (especially family) are super important to Daisy. She totally drank in this time in Kansas!

They each had a twin falling asleep on their laps!

Everyone thought Talia was totally laid back until she came up with the idea that she wants to feed herself! No help and no mom! Haha. 🙂 

Gift exchange! So fun. 

Sadly, the stomach flu hit Craig’s family as well. Craig was down one day with nausea, and our three girls were throwing up the day before that.

But the real hit came the night before we left. Every one of the other adults in his family came down with it that night/the next morning. Some of them simply felt bad. Others puked their guts out over and over what felt like all night long. Ah yes, and Enzo was throwing up that night too. I got about 4 hours of sleep between listening to the household puking and Enzo puking and Talia thinking it’s time to party and my sinus’ going shut. The next morning I just got up and said, I am going to do this. So Craig and I packed up and finally around 10:00 we headed back to Texas. Craig had a photo/video shoot scheduled for the next day. We needed to get home.

It was a nightmare of a drive home. Haha! Seriously. We broke any record ever by taking nearly 12 hours to drive google’s 7 hour trek. It started out by our trying to find a Chick-fil-A for lunch, as someone had given us a card. But our gps took us to the airport which was not at all helpful and we lost valuable time. Then on an interstate in Oklahoma, we blew a tire. As in totally blew. So grateful for safety, we made it to the edge of the road. An officer and a triple A dude were extremely helpful, but we lost 2-3 hours by the time we had a fresh tire and were back on the road. By that time I was very hungry but also feeling very bad. I had so little sleep the night before and wasn’t eating properly. And possibly I was also hit with the stomach virus. All in all, the last 4-5 hours home were miserable. I kept a puke bag handy and sat very still. I prayed my little heart out. I tried eating but couldn’t. We kept worship music on and mind over matter, we kept going. The babies were taking turns falling apart from the long drive. Talia was still not eating well from when she had been sick, so she was nursing a lot. Enzo ate very little and was emotionally fragile. We kept going, stopping when we needed to, which seemed to be often. I have never watched the miles pass so slowly. I would check and –unbelievable, we still had hours to go. Dear God, just bring us home…please just get me home…I prayed over and over.

Finally at about 10:20pm, we pulled in. This was after about a half hour of Hazel crying and moaning about her stomach. By that time it was all almost funny. But not really. Haha! I have NEVER Ever been so happy to see home. Ever. Our house was cold, but it was home. I came in and collapsed onto the couch, covered with babies and kids. (laugh and cry here.) We were home. 

I went straight to bed, and God in His mercy opened my sinuses and I slept that night. I nursed Talia often (says Craig, who had to get up and get her for me, as my stomach was still feeling bad…) but I still slept. Shaky but much better the next day, I just sat in my house which was completely trashed with all our traveling stuff, and soaked in that we were home, and I could completely relax. Rest. Get well. Home.

Craig had a video shoot that day, three hours away. He didn’t come home until after 8:00 pm. So it was a bit of a rocky day with my trying to get some strength back and take care of the kids. We had little food around that was ready to eat, so Daisy and I managed to make white bean cupcakes that afternoon, and the kids had fun decorating them. 

And then it was today. And I finally unpacked the rest of our clothes and there is still laundry to finish. 🙂 

There is the story of our trip. The Best and The Worst Ever. 

The good times we had with both my family and Craig’s family totally trumps anything else. And being able to see some long lost friends who came for Norma’s wedding was so good! There are other highlights as well. God has done so many incredible things…the past month has been so AWESOME and so hard but so AWESOME! 

I need to go knock together some food for my hungry family. 🙂 

I am so excited about 2018. God is so amazing! He is so good! Yay for walking with Him!

Peace.

<3

P.S. This post is probably waaaay too much information! Haha! Forgive me. 🙂 

Merry Christmas from Texas!

Gifts from the kids…just the best. <3

I found an original memory game on ebay like we used to have at home! Daisy loves playing memory, so we played twice today and will probably play again… 🙂

 

I kinda’ went crazy making fun, healthy Christmas treats!

December in Texas. 

Ya know, those Italian wedding cookies…made healthy!

Then I got sick. Again. So I read this book. Loved it!

Oh just mom all excited about getting out of the house…shhhh…by herself!

My Christmas baby doll!

Craig was shooting video for a story at this fantastic place in Cedar Hill, so we hopped along! These people won first place in The Great Christmas Light Fight. (TV show)

It was spectacular!

Christmas party at Co-op! We made it a PJ party. You don’t get a picture of me. 😉

Daisy likes to dress Talia up. 🙂 (Yes, underwear on her head…)

Eggnog!

And those are some of the bits and pieces of our lives the past weeks. 

As I took a walk this evening, I looked at our year and was overwhelmed by the goodness of Father God. Overwhelmed. Woe. 

So blessed. And so excited for another year!

Blessings to all of you and Merry Christmas! <3

Mason Jar Lids for Kids!

Here they are! These feel expensive. I’ll tell you that right off. But they have solved my cup-with-lid deal for my three oldest kids perfectly. Again, I wanted to use glass cups for them. I honestly tried so many things. I tried those cute metal lids with straws. They rusted after a couple weeks of use. I tried plastic tops with a hole for a straw, not realizing that I still needed to use a metal ring, which…rusted after a week or so of use. I didn’t want rust in their water! I needed a 100% plastic lid for their glass jar cups. 

Then I found these.

I knew instantly that they were perfect. But the price! Why???!! I invested, and we have used them for years. They are so perfect. the kids sip out of them without a straw most of the time. In the mornings, I can put their glass jars of fresh water on the table, color coded with the lids.

They get their own drinks throughout the day off the table. No dirtying a hundred glasses. No breaking glasses. The jars are heavy duty. If they dump, a small amount of water runs over the table, not a quart of water! Enzo at two years uses them too now. 

The cool thing is, if I make them a special drink, which of course needs a straw to make it even more festive, the sippy opening has a straw shape! So I stick a straw in and we’re good. 

They have held up perfectly. They are high quality. They have this rubber ring to help them seal off. (The top where the straw fits in isn’t sealed.)

I would buy them all over again. I have three in ocean colors in two different sizes. One for wide mouth pint jars, and the other for regular mouth. Those pint jars have handles so that’s kinda’ cool. We love them. 🙂

Enjoy!


The Awesome Sippy Lids!

Here we go! I am now using Amazon Associate links on my blog. There are so many things that I have found work super well for me in my mommy life, or my crunchy life, or my spiritual life…and many of these items I heard of through others moms. So! I’m going to be posting these items now and again, and if you buy through my link, I can start to make a bit of money! Yay! 🙂

The first item I want to show you are these sippy lids. I have five kids, so I’ve tried all manner of sippy lids through the years. I am crunchy. I don’t like using plastic sippy cups, where water sets inside all day long…getting warm on the window sill, getting stale overnight, and leaching possible chemicals into the water for my babies. I know that BPA free is a great step! But I still love…glass.

(Can even be gripped by the feet!) 

So I went to using a simple one cup mason style jar. Over that jar, I stretch this silicone lid. It may drip a bit on the floor now and then, but it is mostly mess free, it is easy to pop into the dishwasher, it stays on the jar, and it’s…cute! The price is reduced right now. Enjoy!

(P.S. Coming soon: the most awesome lids for my older kids! Never have a glass of water pour over your table again…)

 

A Book Review…Training Up a Hundred Kids

I don’t even know where to begin. My head, my heart, my soul are exploding with this! And I really, really want to write in a way that makes sense. I need one of you amazing bloggers to write this for me. Out of my heart. 🙂 

But since that’s not an option, I’m going to do my best. 

This book.

If you’re not careful, it might change your life. 

And then, it’ll go ahead and change the lives, hearts, and futures of your kids.

Really, it’s not the book that does it. We know…it’s Father God. 

This book, which I have just finished and am going to turn around and read again, along with a book Craig is reading on how to read the Bible, (much more than that, but hey–you need to talk to him if you want to know more), are coming together to rock my world. Our world. 

Yay! Rocking our world is such a good thing!!

It all begins with how you read the Bible. And live and believe it. 

In the Old Testament, (thus, the old covenant/way God worked with His children) God –for reasons I do and reasons I don’t understand– related with us in a very controlled manner. He gave laws: dos and don’ts. If a person broke those laws, there were clear consequences. If you kill someone, you will be killed. You disobey God’s command, you are stoned. Etc. 

We all agree that we are now living in a new covenant; a new way of relating with God and our own salvation. We know that this is in the New Testament. What we don’t know is that in many ways, we are still operating in the old way. What we don’t know is that many times, we still believe God is working with us in the old manner! 

Let me give you a few examples from my life.

In my head, I have been changing a lot. I know in my head that God is not an angry person up there with a big stick ready to whack me when I do wrong. But why, then, if I get sick, or my tire goes flat, or we lose some money, do I start checking my life to see what I have done wrong to deserve this? 

Closer, far closer to home for many of us: why do I believe that others have control over me? Why do I allow others to manipulate me with disapproval, withholding love, tiny remarks, etc.? 

Because the truth is this:

God is not controlling me. 

No one else needs to control me. 

I am the only one who needs to control me. And the reason I can do this is because the Holy Spirit fills me, and a direct result of that is self control. 

Really, for this to fully make sense, you may need to read the book. It sounds almost weird. Especially depending on how you grew up and what worldviews and doctrines became a part of you as you grew. 

But this truth is breaking off weights. It’s breaking tight bonds. It’s breaking people free!

Listen:

God does not control man. He gives free choice. He gave free choice from the beginning, and He still does it today. 

God is not “I’m bigger than you, so you need to listen to me or I will spank you and hurt you until you do.” 

God does not hold us down while we have a temper tantrum…until we relax and give up.

I’m going to go so far as to say that to God, obedience and compliance is not the most important thing. 

Relationship is. Connection with our hearts. Because He, in His infinite wisdom, knows that when that connection and relationship is there, stronger than life itself, that of course we will obey. We will jump with deep joy to comply with His ideas, His suggestions, His goals for us. 

So why not us ~ for our kids? 

Can I take this enormous paradigm shift–that happened between the Old and New Testaments, and change my own parenting? My own “training of my kids”? My own…heart?

Yes. 

That’s my answer. And in writing this, I am not going to attempt to convince anyone of anything. So argue all you want. I’m not convincing those of you who don’t want this. I’m writing this because someone somewhere was faithful in bringing this to my attention, and it is turning out to be a direct answer to my heart crying out to God for wisdom and help, as I realized that the way I am bringing up my kids — it’s not working. 

And there may be one other lovely friend out there, who is praying the same prayer.

*********************************************************

I have a seven year old. This simply means that I have been parenting for seven years. In reality, I sort of parented long before that. I was an elementary school teacher, a Sunday school teacher, a Bible school teacher, a Kenyan boys class teacher, and now and then, a babysitter. 

I was a no-nonsense sort. I believed that in loving my kids, but making them toe the line, and allowing no bad behavior, I would turn out good kids. Kids who would be a blessing to society and to the Kingdom of God. This was how I taught my hundreds of kids before I was married and had my own. And they adored me. I’m not kidding. That was one reason I was sure this would work with my own kids someday. They also listened. They respected me. I was 27 years old, and quite sure I would make a great mom. 

(Insert long, sobbing laugh here…)

Ten years later, here I am. I have five young kids. And I have no idea what I am doing.

Which is actually so good. Because then God can change me. He can bring me truth. And He can bring my kids to a good place.

My three oldest kids are pretty nice in general. They are polite. They are kind to other kids. They love God very much. 

Then I had Enzo. And nothing worked with him. We realized that he needs respect. He needs a different hand. What I didn’t know was that all my kids were suffering. I’m not hiding under my bed crying. I can’t change the past. We all hurt our kids. It’s life. But I am jumping up and down! Because there are answers! Yay!

Let me give you a very vivid, true picture of our home.

Bomani is seven. Daisy and Hazel are six. While they play together all the time, they also fight. Constantly. Bomani loves to tease. The twins go crazy. They are passionately loyal to each other. They will also scream their hearts out at each other. Then throw Enzo into the mix. He has a very loud voice. He has a stronger temperament than I knew possible at this age. He can get the older kids to listen to him. But it doesn’t always work very smoothly. 

Then there is me. Mom. I am going to say this with much hiding of my face. I am a helicopter mom. I see everything. In the nursery at Co-op, I am the one walking around keeping the kids from hurting each other. Because I am 100% aware. I can see an accident about to happen behind my head. 

So when my kids are fighting, I know what’s going to happen. One of them will get hurt. It won’t be a nasty bruise or a cut, but it will be a hurt. So I step in. I yell around and get them to listen to me. It’s for their own good! It’s because I love them! But it’s exhausting. And it makes me mad. And I can’t be there every time. I threaten with a punishment. So they’ll listen, right?

But that’s not how my Father fathers me. He gives me 100% choice. He sets me free! I choose, every minute, what I will do. He makes relationship and connection with my heart priority. He sticks around to give suggestions and counsel. (Holy Spirit!) He does not bring punishment down on me when I do wrong. He allows me to get into a mess. Then He allows me to clean up my mess. And I learn. I grow. I passionately follow Him. Because I love Him. 

Listen to this:

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel–not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt…

“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel,” says the Lord:  

I will put My law in their minds,
and write it on their hearts;
and I will be their God,
and they shall be My people.

Relationship. No longer leading us by the hand. Instead, He will place His heart into our heart. He sets us free. We no longer need to be controlled by the outside, because we are able to control ourselves from the inside. We have the Holy Spirit in us! 

Love and freedom need to replace punishment and fear as the motivating forces in our relationships with our children. There is love, honor, and value for each other.

I still have enormously long ways to go. But I am so excited about the changes we are already seeing in our home. Practically speaking, I am training myself to allow my kids to fight. Because then they will realize that this is not working! They will get hurt. And they will have messes to clean up. (Not talking about the physical messy room…) This is much, much harder than you can imagine. A heli-mom allowing her kids to get hurt?!!! Allowing them to fight?!!! Yes. No longer heli-mom. Now I’m learning to be like my Father in heaven. I am here with suggestions. I am here to keep them from getting killed. I am here to create a strong connection of love and loyalty. And I am here…

To set them free.

A really big tool is choices. Because you do still need to get your kids to do what you want them to, many times. When it’s time to clean up their bedroom, I say, “Would you like to clean it on your own, or shall I set a timer?” They say, “We want to do it without a timer!!” And they hop to it. I empowered them. I gave them choice. I did not say, “Clean your room or I will give you each two whacks.” 

(P.S. The book is not anti-spanking. But if you really think about it, all whipping of your child is spoken of in the Old Testament.)

Enzo is especially thriving with this. When it’s time for him to use the bathroom, I say, “Enzo, please go pee!” And then I remember and quickly add, “Do you want to do it yourself or shall I come with you?” Many times he hops up and happily goes himself. 

Okay, this is hilarious. The other day I gave him two choices about something. He groaned and said, “Awww, two choices!” I laughed so hard. He is realizing that the “two choices” thing is cramping his style which is to do exactly as he wishes. 🙂 

Every now and then I totally lose patience and speak sternly at the kids and give them an ultimatum. It feels so good at the time, then so not good. Because the results are not good. 

And so we learn. And change. The change is not only in my children, it’s also a freeing in my own soul. I am the only one to control me. I don’t need to bow to the control of others. That is freedom! 

And then I also have no need to control anyone, even the behavior of my own kids. 

God has set us free, and so who are we to crawl back into bondage? 

Ah. The excitement of knowing I do not need to cringe at the thought of having teenagers. This may sound weird, but the other day at Co-op I was watching my girls playing, and I just was overcome with a deep, deep happiness as I realized that I am free to only love them. I no longer need to fear bad behavior and treat it hard. I can’t describe the exact realization but it was incredible. 

Free to love. Free to set them free.

Hallelujah! 

Okay, I’ll shut up and let you read the book yourself. 🙂 

Peace.

 

Talia Rain’s Birthday

This little lady just turned 1.

I will not go into the details of how incredibly fast this year has gone. You already know that. I am determined not to mourn as my children grow up. 🙂 (I still do at times!)

This past year has been so full of joy!

So, of course, on a whim, I went crazy with the cake. This comes from watching The Great British Baking Show…and wanting to bake everything in sight, but having really bad allergies for a month, so I baked less than usual instead. But now…a birthday cake to make! Yay!

I started out by whipping up two white bean, vanilla cakes and baking them in two different sized cheesecake pans. After that, I cut a circle out of the largest cake. This cut-out would be my top tier. Into the hole I poured a strawberry mousse. Then I placed the second cake on top. Surprise for you when you cut into the cake! 

After that, I covered the entire cake in chocolate ganache made with Lily’s chocolate. You can see I did not get the ganache smooth and shiny. Oops. 🙂 Paul and Mary would not have been terribly impressed. But the rest of us were, so…

See, ya gotta have some sort of chocolate with a strawberry and vanilla cake!

Then I made strawberry whipped cream by whipping heavy cream and pouring in a box of sugar-free (actually was raspberry) jello. It colored it pink and gave it a nice flavor. The whipped cream frosting was not perfectly smooth and didn’t look like real icing, but so goes when you are determined to make a healthy three tiered cake. 🙂 The rosettes I piped also barely looked like rosettes. Haha! This is because of my frosting and because I use a baggie with the corner nipped off. So far I have refused to buy piping tips or bags. 

That says “Talia” on top even if you can’t really…read it. 

 

 

 

We got her these sweet, little stacking cups, which she and Enzo both loved!

Grandpa and Grandma sent a gift!

Surprise! Another larger set of cups! 🙂 🙂 

And that was Talia Rain’s birthday!

<3

It’s The Most Wonderful…

Last year this time I had a 1-week-old baby doll. I was supremely happy. But I knew I would do next to nothing that Christmas season! And I didn’t. I stayed home and recovered. And took care of my baby.

I called her Almond Eyes. And had so much fun…but no Christmas. 🙂 

Now it’s this year.

I can do anything!

I am dancing this Christmas season! 

(Okay, maybe not anything…seeing that I do have a hundred kids to lug around with me. But in all fairness, most Christmas things are for kids, so…)

It was Bomani who asked to start Christmas decorating around here. So we looked over our pieces and had some fun! They remembered the tree I made last year out of cardboard and two greenery garlands I had.

The cardboard was unusable, so I looked around, grabbed a large, Costco vinegar bottle, and used that as a base. 🙂 A stop at Dirt Cheap gave me lights for a couple bucks. It is squat, but makes them happy! 

Craig drove me crazy for a couple weeks after he decided on my gift. I was 100% clueless, like had no idea! He didn’t want to wait for Christmas, which is unusual…usually it’s me who can’t wait! So we had our gifts the night of our date. 🙂 

He gave me a robotic vacuum cleaner. Black Friday sale. 🙂 I was honestly like…whaaat?! I barely knew these things existed! But two weeks later, and I am so beyond sold! In the evening, we make sure the main part of the house is picked up. Then we set “Erv” to work and go to bed. In the morning, the floors, carpet and hard floors–are clean, and Erv is back in his charging station! It’s so amazing! If I want to clean the bedrooms, I just put him inside and close the door. He does his thing, including vacuuming under the bed and dressers! A few questions you might have…I’ll just answer them now. He doesn’t get a corner because he is round. 🙂 The compartment to hold dirt is smallish, but you just empty it once every day or so. It’s easy just to open it, dump it into the trash, and click it back in. Talia is afraid of him, so I try to run him while she is sleeping or at night. Otherwise I have a clingy baby! 🙂 Erv runs in a very random pattern, but somehow, the floor is very evenly clean when he is done. I’ll probably do a “real” vacuuming once a month or so in case he isn’t getting as deep of a clean. In general, I could not be happier. My life just got that much easier. 🙂 

But back to Christmas…

A week ago, Craig and I went on a date to our favorite coffee house. Lo, there was a play about to begin! So we got in on our first Christmas play for the year. That was cool.

On Sunday we took our 3 oldest kids and two of their friends to The Littlest Wiseman. It was incredible! 

Last evening we drove to Burleson and took in a live nativity (including sheep, donkey, and camel!), bounce houses, cookies and hot chocolate, and a hayride. (Put on by a Baptist church) Very cool!

And next week is our Co-op Christmas party…and so on. I thrill to the music, the lights, and the joy. At this point I’m not sure I’ll be tired of Christmas by the time January arrives, but we’ll see. 😉 

May your days be bright!

<3

 

Family Photo Shoot

Craig is now a photographer, videographer, and story writer. (Check out his Story Pro page on facebook.) Because of this, it was relatively easy to do a family photo shoot for free! I say relatively easy because…

Who we kidding? Haha! To get all the kids to look at the camera without a person there guiding them was interesting! But we did get some really cute pictures of them… I’m going to post them as a film strip. Enjoy! 🙂

Today A Year Ago

Today a year ago
Our skies opened
To sunshine.

Our hearts opened
to rain.
Gentle, refreshing
rain.

Our home opened to joy
Peace-filled joy.

Every baby is special. Every child is created by God~perfectly. Every sweet soul who enters this world has God’s eye on him and her. God’s stamp of beauty and love. 

Today I life my hands to thank God for Talia Rain. The meaning of Talia is Dew from God. This year has been a year of refreshing rain from the heart of the Father to us…in so many ways. I am so grateful! Every day I kiss those little cheeks and thrill to the delight she brings to us…

Just a tiny video yet… 🙂 

 

Picture Update Again!

I know. I’m so far behind on pictures I have no idea where to start. But let’s give it a go…

Not every day you have such cool lawn furniture! 

He loooves to help with laundry. 

Uh-oh!

I just love this little ball of sweetness.

So, I keep seeing these darling dresses on Zulily. They have layers of ruffles in different patterns. I decided hey, I can make some! I have all manner of print fabrics from a friend. So I spent a whole day on it. And I don’t like them. 🙁 The vintage fabrics just don’t go with those modern tops! 🙁 I could snip the mesh gold off the shirts, but I’m afraid the twins would notice and go ballistic. So…there they are. The dresses I spent a whole day on, and don’t like. Let that be a lesson. (Sorry the pic is so fuzzy.)

Gettin’ back to the earth.

She designed and made (with tape) a dress for herself. 🙂

Turmeric ginger toddy. Chasin’ those bugs away!

November is one of the most beautiful times of the year here. (Weather wise.)

Craigs parents came for a visit and so we got to go on a date one evening while they stayed with the kids! (I very much dislike the color red on me. Amen.)

We got the most amazing Mediterranean food. 

Love.

More love.

She loooves avocado!

A $15 stretched canvas off of Amazon. We had fun with it!

This blanket goes out here about every day!

Eating a cupcake is serious business.

We are all about painting around here…

Ooooh. Dirt!

Before and after using olive oil on their hair. I cannot do their hair without it. It is a terror to comb out and gets so dry! I put olive oil and water into a spray bottle, shake, spray. It makes their hair lovely. I don’t use shampoo on their hair so their scalp doesn’t produce much oil. 

We had a lovely time with Will and Rosina’s family here last weekend! So fun to have friends come visit us.

Just melt my very soul. 

I’m loving my living room!

Thanksgiving Day! We were struggling with colds, so we stayed home. Here I am reading the Thanksgiving story to them. 

We made gingerbread…

…and took the kids to the park over the fence from us. It was so beautiful outside!

We revamped last year’s homemade Christmas tree into a new one this year. I need to get a picture of it. It’s 2 greenery garlands wound around a Costco vinegar bottle. 🙂 🙂 Squat, but makes the kids happy!

I’m reading this book! And my life, and my kids lives are changing…

We had a super fun evening where we took the kids to the park for Whistle Stop Christmas’ kick-off. So fun!

A Hundred Kids. 

I love Costco. Love it. Craig and I have tried to understand this. Because he thinks it’s a huge, warehousey, random store. Like, you can get new tires on your vehicle while you buy clothes and hummus. Well yes! But it’s heaven. Because you never know what darling clothes will be there. And it is full of affordable organic and natural foods. And good produce. I love it there. It is so exciting when I get to go. 🙂 

My husband is the owner of three businesses. Two of them are seasonal, so now it’s Story Pro. He does photo and video shoots for businesses’ social media pages. It’s fantastic advertising. He also writes up stories to go with the video and photos. He is really good, and it’s putting food on the table. 

(All three businesses are in the beginning stages. That’s why we are not driving a BMW. Amen.)

He’s cool. 

Talia’s heart of sunshine…

The night he took the boys…

This personality. It’s real. 🙂 

Making that food budget count!

They spend hours on this rope swing. Hours. 

Time to hit the potty training! 

I was dreading it for good reason: Besides being my all time least favorite part of motherhood, Enzo is stubborn and complicated. 🙂 Here’s what I learned: people can give you all the pointers, but you need to find your own way with your own child. I could not take him to the potty every hour, much less every 15 minutes! (And yes, I gave him his favorite beverages.) He has an enormous tank, and that is the reason he is already dry some nights! But he got frustrated trying to pee when there was no way he could. So I had to let him learn the hard way. We had some wet carpets. Plenty of poop in places it is not meant to be. But he learned. And is still learning, but we are definitely over the worst of it! 

Craig spent a week in November in Kansas working on my brother-in-law’s roof. He took the twins with him as it was their turn to go visit grandpas! 

 

So I got to spend time with my boys.

And I sewed all week long. Talia needed winter dresses, so I raided my fabric boxes!

This one was getting pretty close to fun to sew…

Two hours into the week, we hit a snag. Bomani was bored out of his mind! WHAT was I going to do with him for a week, without his sisters?!! So I sat down and worked my brain. Then I hauled the kids to Walmart and bought him acrylic paints and brushes. He was thrilled and spent a lot of time painting that week. 

This was my first, trial dress for Talia. 

Meanwhile, Craig transformed a roof.

And the twins had a super fun week!

Bomani sold one painting! 

His drawings blow me away. 

Were we ever happy to all be together again!

This guy loves puzzles. 

And there we are. 🙂 

Snippets of our lives. 

May your December be one of blessing with enough rest to truly enjoy the crazy! 🙂

<3