Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New traditions in the making!

We were supposed to be in Kalamazoo on the 20th for a family Christmas party but the roads were too dangerous, so we stayed home. We had to come up with something else that would be fun so the kids wouldn't be so upset about staying home. My idea was, let's stay in the house and play games or make cookies. S's idea... snow football. Of course when we presented the ideas to the kids, they voted to do both.

We had such a great time. We, of course, had to play tackle. The only ones that couldn't be tackled were E and K. We learned quickly that Dad is impossible to take down, although we definitely tried. Everyone scored at least one touchdown. E was on my team and we took advantage of her "no tackle" rule.

Unfortunely, I didn't get a picture of K. It didn't take her long to decide she didn't want to play. For a while we played around her while she stood in the middle of field, pouting. After a few plays I managed to convince her to sit on the bench and watch. This may turn into a yearly tradition. We had so much fun!!

After the big game we got to make "festivitrees". The kids worked in pairs building Christmas trees out of star cookies. Na and Ni took their time making sure all the m&m's were spaced properly.

D helped Kate very well. They were the perfect pair. D really let K do a lot of the work. She loved it. It was fun watching them work together. My two brown-eyed cuties.

J and E got a little carried away with the sprinkles at the beginning of their tree - I finally had to move the shakers out of their reach. Their tree was the tallest. I'm not sure how they ended up with so many cookies! Hmmm, I wonder... We kept these out as decorations for only one day before the temptation got to us and we started eating them. This turned out to be a very good day.

Posted by Picasa

Christmas tree adventures

I've decided that I'm just going to be behind by about 2 or 3 weeks with my posts. Maybe eventually I will catch up and actually post something that recently happened. We'll see... These are from December 13th when we went out in lots of snow to cut down our tree. D is not in the picture because he was at merit badge college for scouts. We felt bad to go without him but this was the only time S was not going to be on call.

S said a number of times (and for good reason) "this is why kids need a dad." Absolutely! If S weren't available to 'cut' and 'drag' we would be at the store picking out a lovely, fake, and pre-lit tree. Maybe someday - I can dream can't I?!

Notice the size of the tree. We were supposed to get a 6 or 7 foot tree in order to fit nicely in a corner we picked out in the living room. (With all the new furniture, it was the only good spot.) Well, it's hard to judge size out in the big, white, open field. So... it's a 10-foot tree, again, and we ended up moving some furniture around to accommodate it.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New furniture, finally!

S and I went out the day after Thanksgiving and purchased a lot of furniture for our living room and for D's bedroom. Our living room has needed more seating for years and D's bedroom will also serve as a guest room now. (We told him that it's still his room for 360 days of the year and a guest room for the few days we might have someone visit.) We've never done anything quite like this before. It was very strange. It was delivered right after we got back from Savannah and that was much more overwhelming than I expected. And, trying to paint D's room the very morning before it all came in didn't help the stress level at all. Why would I do that? I didn't realize that getting new furniture would stress me out. What is wrong with me!? Anyway, now that it is all in the house and mostly where I want it, and D's room is completely painted, I can enjoy it.
Posted by Picasa


S and I got to take a trip (sort of) to Savannah, GA. I say sort of because it was actually a conference for S and I tagged along because he doesn't like to go by himself. We had a blast. I actually went to a few of the lectures with him. They weren't bad. I even got to participate in one of them. I played a 55 year old divorced, diabetic that exercises every day. S played a 60 something, diabetic man with two girlfriends. There was a point in the skit when I was supposed to ask another man in the group if he wanted me to come over every morning and go walking with him. His response was "Is this a date?" That wasn't in the script! I turned red. Later S said he didn't expect such feelings of jealousy and that he didn't like that guy saying that to me - even if it was just part of the skit! It was actually quite funny. In the picture above, I'm standing in the spot where they filmed the bus scene for Forrest Gump.
We had to get a picture of the amazing trees. The branches were all twisted and turned. It's hard to believe that there is that much strength in a tree to be able to hold all of that up. It was cool. And the weather was nice. No snow to deal with. In fact the day we got there it was in the upper 60's.
Here I am in front of The Lady and Sons restaurant (Paula Deen's restaurant), where we ate two nights because it was so good. Real southern cooking... mmmmm!
This is the view from our hotel window. We were right on the Savannah River. We got to the hotel, opened the shades and this is what we saw. It was awesome. I can't believe a ship so large and heavy can stay on top of the water. And this river didn't seem big enough to handle such large ships. This was a great trip for us. We really got to concentrate on our relationship without having to think about all the regular day to day stuff at home. This trip helped us become closer than ever and reconfirmed for us the importance of getting away occasionally alone. We will definitely keep up this tradition. It makes me look forward to the future when we can do stuff like this all the time.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

First Big Snow (from back in November)

First snowman of the season! I forgot I took these pictures, so my posts are a little out of order now. Oops! This snowman is made with the help of a snowman kit I made years ago - I cut out and painted wooden pieces and attached them to dowels which stick into the snowman. The kids love it. This is what they were doing the week before Thanksgiving... so I packed all our snow gear to take with us to Kalamazoo. When we got there... NO SNOW! Talk about packing way too much in the car for no reason. Oh well, it was cold enough to need the hats and mittens at least.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 14, 2008

D's spotlight

D's birthday came up on us fast. He's 14! I can't believe I'm old enough to have a 14 year old child. Life continues to move too quickly for me and keeps getting faster. I can't seem to keep up on everything that I used to. I figured that since D just had a birthday, this might be the perfect time to spotlight him. Here's what I came up with for him:

“In a million words or less…”

He's our oldest child - and that may explain a lot right there. He's always been very good at taking care of younger children, especially babies, even when they are crying. We have felt for a long time that he will be a good dad someday. He used to watch Na for as long as I needed him to when she was a baby – he literally wouldn’t leave her side – he was very aware of protecting her. One example of this was when he even turned down playing with a friend (back when he was 5 years old) because the friend wouldn’t include his sister. When he was a small child he would make all of his toys (especially the dinosaurs) “fight” which meant banging them together over and over again, with the sound effects. He can be funny, and entertaining. He's stubborn. We can depend on him in many situations. He has a soft heart. He loves playing most sports, especially soccer. He is currently trying to learn how to play the piano by teaching himself. He's working to be better at school, and loves his theater class (hidden talent maybe?). He's very ready to grow up - and at 14 he is at the stage of "I know" whenever we try to tell him anything! He used to stand at the top of the stairs and cry for a long periods time – just like his mother used to do as a child – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! He doesn't like to fail at anything. When he was old enough to walk (and we knew he could) he wouldn't take even a few steps at a time if he thought he would fall. I think he wanted to wait until he was sure he could walk across the room without falling before he even tried it. He did the same with talking. He didn't talk until after he turned two. We thought he must have practiced saying words at night while we were asleep so we couldn't hear him, because one day he just started saying everything. He works hard in scouts and enjoys it – most of the time. He loves rewards for behaviors and we have found that money or food work well as motivation for him to do almost anything. He enjoys cooking and seeks after opportunities to make all kinds of foods. He enjoys being in charge – as an oldest child usually does. He says he wants to be an orthodontist when he grows up - he likes to be the one to pull out the loose teeth in our family. And sometimes his younger siblings will let him. He's very confident. Basically, he's a good kid and I look forward to watching him grow into a good man.

Posted by Picasa

Thanksgiving with new cousins and a visitor from Germany!

S's sister married a man that already had four kids so that meant we got four new cousins to get to know. That made this year's Thanksgiving vacation extra exciting for us. It was amazing how quickly everyone got to know each other. By watching them interact, it was as if they had known each other for years. These are the two boys - ages 6 and 8 - and anyone that knows my boys will know that age doesn't matter to them when it comes to playing and generally being crazy.

Pictured here with E is one of the girls - age 11. They are busy playing the wii. (I don't even know if that's how to spell "wii".) The kids couldn't get enough of that thing.
N poses with her new cousin that's her age - 12. It was strange how much they were alike, as you can see. They even worked together (and with the other girls) to make up a cheerleading dance/routine for everyone. It was fun to watch.
Here's S's sister with their aunt from Germany. We get to see her every few years. The kids enjoyed practicing some of their German with her. It was a lot of fun. We managed to pack a lot into that short trip. Aside from eating constantly, we went to the park with all the kids - played on the playground, played a football game (with the kids!). S and I went shopping and bought a lot of new furniture (which will be seen in an upcoming post). We all went to the movies (for free, compliments of S's sister), the kids and some of the adults played video games, and we hardly slept. It was great!
Of course I cannot end this post without mentioning and giving a huge THANK YOU to the cooks! The food was, as always, excellent.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 14, 2008


Here I am, doing laundry, and trying lately to think only about my children's good qualities (see the "In a million words or less..." from my recent post) and all I can say is that one of my children was very lucky to have been safely at school today. I was on my 4th load of the day and as I was pulling clothes out of the washer to put into the dryer I notice a big blue ink mark on a pair of D's pants. Okay, so he got ink on his pants at school and I didn't see it to treat it before washing... no big deal. Then out comes my nice white jacket - INK MARKS! OKAY, WHO HAD THE PEN IN THEIR POCKET?! Well, there in J's church pants, still in the closed pocket, the blue pen and so much ink soaked in that I did something I never do - I threw the pants away. I then spent the next hour or so spraying hair spray and Shout on D's pants and my jacket, and I scrubbed until my arm was tired. (Hair spray actually works quite well on ink marks, as long as it's not a ton of ink, FYI.) After the initial shock and anger wore off, I realized that the real lucky part was that the ink only got on a couple of things. It was a big load and it could've been so much worse. I know because I have experienced this before, only it was a load of whites and there was ink on every single item. So today I'm thankful for hairspray, and that my children go to school!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thankful for a good daughter!

Posted by Picasa

With Thanksgiving coming we naturally reflect on those things we are most thankful for in our lives. On that note... one of N's teachers this year gave the parents a homework assignment. She wanted to get to know her students quickly and wanted help from the people that know them best. The assignment was titled “In a million words or less...” (And this has inspired me to do the same for each of my children - so those will be coming soon!) Here's what I turned in:

I’ve been thinking about this assignment since Na handed it to me that first week of school. I wondered how I could describe my daughter adequately. I decided to brainstorm a little in order to come up with some words that might help paint a picture of her. I know I can use a million words, but if I had to choose only one word it would be “good”. She is simply, good. Now I will expand on that. Here are some of the other words that came to mind in describing her (and in no particular order): responsible, organized, quiet, obedient, helpful, honorable, moral, musical, creative, funny, witty, respectful, sensitive, thoughtful, conscientious, daughter, sister, friend, beautiful – inside and out….
Ever since she was a little girl she did things at her own speed. We used to laugh when we would ask her to hurry and she would say “okay”. Then she would go the same speed as before. She was also very aware of doing her best in just about everything she tried. She is still that way – very careful. She is a great daughter and older sister. She is our oldest daughter. She has an older brother, D, who is in 8th grade, and 4 younger siblings – 1 brother and 3 sisters. She has stepped up to the challenges that come naturally with the role of older sister. She enjoys and is good at babysitting her younger siblings. I can depend on her to do what she is asked and without complaining. She often notices things that need to be done around the house and then will do them without being asked. She has been known to clean the whole kitchen just because it needed to be done. And she’ll clean the bathroom any time I ask her. She says she likes it. I really enjoy that quality in her! She’s a wonderful helper and enjoys being part of a team, whatever that might be – around the house with chores or on the soccer field.
Na has a great sense of what is right and good. She is our child that we trust with the TV remote. I will explain. We try to change the channel when inappropriate commercials pop up in the middle of a show we are watching as a family. Sometimes when her dad and I need to leave the room, we hand the remote to Na. She seems to know when to change the channel way before anyone else notices anything wrong.
She enjoys music. She took piano lessons for a couple of years. She started the viola in 5th grade through the elementary school. She used to enjoy singing when she was little, and she has a nice voice. Unfortunately she has become too self-conscious about it. Now she only sings in groups or in her own room (or shower :).
She is creative. She loves to write and uses words very well to express herself. I loved it when she got to the age when she started to get my jokes. Not too long after that she started coming up with her own. She likes drawing stick figures. It amazes me the detail that she can get into a stick figure’s expressions and movements. She will create whole scenes using these simple drawings. It fascinates me.
We learned early on that the way to correct or discipline Na was vastly different than what we did with her older brother. When D misbehaved, the consequences needed to be pretty strict in order to help him change his behavior. With Na, all we had to do was to look at her sternly and she would start to cry. She is still very sensitive to correction – maybe it’s because she is already trying so hard to be good and do what is right. She is good at obeying. She listens and tries to improve. Because of her we learned right away that we couldn’t rely on past experience in raising children. They are all so different. And on that note, we have sure loved having her as a daughter and getting to know her. I hope this will be helpful as you are getting to know her over the course of this year.
P.S. Thanks for this assignment. It has been fun and challenging to try to put into words what I think of my daughter. It makes me want to do this assignment for the rest of my children, just for fun. Not only has it made me stop and think hard about who she is, but it has made me appreciate her more and recognize all that she contributes to our family. She is a good one!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Something about Halloween gets me really excited. I think because I love to dress up and pretend to be someone or something else. Plus I had a mom that would make really cool costumes for us as kids. I decided at the beginning of October that I wasn't going to put so much effort into the kids' costumes this year, like I usually do. It seems I try to say that every year then I still go all out with the costumes. I can't help it - I love halloween. So here are all the kids in their costumes. The Joker was the most time consuming. I had to make just about everything. Where do you find crazy purple pants and coat, and green vest? I also researched a little online on how to do the hair and make up.

A friend of mine asked what my kids were dressing up as this year. When I said I had three witches, she responded with, "yeah, but what are they going to be for halloween?" :) Ha Ha!

The kids in J's class said things like, "wow, you look like a real scarecrow!" He even played the part! The scarecrow is one of my all time favorite costumes - and fairly easy to make.

A couple more little witches. They loved getting to wear make-up!

Here's my cowardly lion.
Here they all are (with a neighbor friend from across the street) just before going out trick-or-treating. Looking good and ready for tons of candy - which we now have covering the kitchen countertop.
Posted by Picasa

Pumpkin Carving

K is fascinated by the "stuff" inside the pumpkin. She is my one girl (at this age) that wasn't afraid of it and wanted to do it herself.

K shows off her pumpkin that her dad helped her carve. I would show a picture of her dad in the middle of carving but I promised him that I wouldn't put a picture of him in every post. So I have to wait until I do a few more posts before he can be seen again!

E pretty much did her own by herself. This is the first year that she didn't need help. Well, I helped a little with the mouth. I can't believe my years of carving for my kids are almost over.

Ni did her own, too. Look at the concentration. She pulls her lips in when she concentrates just like me.

J works on his own design. He is usually very creative with the pumpkin faces.
Na took the longest to get her done. She takes her time with everything. We've always said she only has one speed.

D carved his, then didn't like it, so he kept carving until it ended up looking a little bit like a monkey.

Here are our final creations...

...and again without the flash...

...and again with the kids holding their own. We actually had the lights off but I kept the flash on my camera on. I think it's funny so see what faces they were making in the dark knowing I was going to take the picture. Ni's expression kills me :)
Posted by Picasa