Tuesday, January 31, 2012

MMM: Growing Soap

This activity was brought to you by the letter D.
For Uncle D.
Who sent us this super fun link with the idea for this bit of Monday fun.
"Ivory Soap Explosion"

If you try this at home, you have to use IVORY soap.  Something about the air pockets in that soap makes this work.  Other than that, all you need is a microwave.

First, cut the soap into pieces.  The website where we got the instructions recommended quarters.  But we couldn't resist the urge to try more.  The bigger the better we decided!

Put it in the microwave, set the timer for about 90 seconds and watch it start to grow (it probably won't take the whole 90 seconds).

We did it over. and Over.  AND OVER.
and they never got tired of watching it grow.

It was pretty cool to see the before/after difference and feel the light fluffy after product.

I actually don't have pictures of the best part...the after-math-bath. The kids loved breaking off pieces of the soap chunk, floating them in the tub and playing with the soapy mess. They've never been so clean!

What a great Monday. Thanks, Uncle D!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Celebrating FOUR!

Cbug had a big time celebrating his fourth birthday.  He had several different celebrations and for our number/date-loving-boy it was a little hard for him to understand that they weren't all on January 3rd.  This is the boy that always knows exactly what day of the week it is and what date it is on the calendar and has all of his family member's birthdays and ages memorized.  In fact, when we were at Grammy's house to celebrate she said "do you want to blow out the candles on your birthday cake?" he responded with "But today is January 6th." We all quickly glanced at our watches/phones to check the date.  He was right.  How dare we question?  So we explained that sometimes birthdays get celebrated other days. He pretty quickly recovered from the confusion when there was cake, presents, friends and family involved.

We celebrated with our little team of 5 by giving him his present before school
(which was greatly enhanced by the fact that trash truck came by right as he was going for his first ride.  still one of his very favorite things).

and going to get donuts together.

We celebrated at school.

and we celebrated Cars style (shocking) with friends and family at the playscape. 

Such a fun celebration of our big boy!  Even if it wasn't all on January 3rd.  And if you ask Cbug what he thought about the celebrations...
He'll give it a thumbs up!
We sure love our Cbug.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Why do "New Year's Resolutions" get such a terrible rap?
I agree, I find the guy I saw out keeping his New Year's exercise resolution by walking in the park...with his full coffee cup...quite hilarious at times. However, there is something to be said for starting the year with resolve. I've been that half-hearted-park-guy on many of the personal goals I set. But it does seem like a FANTASTIC idea to treat each year as a clean slate, analyze the past to prepare for a better future, commit to things that will be beneficial to yourself, your family and others, etc.
Then again, if you happen to be slightly type A and have an occasionally obsessive/compulsive personality, dreaming up New Year's Resolutions can be dangerous, too. This coming from the person who once read a whole series of books, not even enjoying the first one, just because it was something I had started. So I'll be the first to admit, I can occasionally (cough, cough) take my own great ideas, once intended for fun or for doing good, and carry them to a quite unmanageable extreme.

 Case-in-point: I once had an idea that it would be one of my "New Year's goals" to eat the Dairy Queen Blizzard of the Month. Every month. AND since I only ever eat Blizzards on road trips, our family of 5 would pack up and go on at least one road trip EVERY.SINGLE.MONTH. Does that sound reasonable to anyone else? For some reason it sounded perfectly attainable and like a lot of fun to me when I was standing at the beginning of the year, looking at my clean-slate. I even had grand plans to blog about it. RRL listened sweetly to the idea, said it might be a little extreme, but let me dream away anyway. And dream I did. Until I came back to real life in about February. Lets just say...it did not happen. And really, it was of no consequence.
But there were a few things with slightly more consequence to which I had great "resolve" last year and that I plan to carry forward into this new year. The difference between these goals and the whole Blizzard/Roadtrip fantasy is the foundation. And out of the foundation- the purpose. I've mentioned once (or a hundred) times before, that RRL and I strongly felt the Lord preparing us, well before we stepped into 2011, to be able to walk through a difficult season. One way He did that for me was to propel me into a year of self-discipline. Starting in the fall of 2010, I really started taking a look at areas of my life, my marriage, my family, that needed a little more "resolve". All I really mean by self-discipline is a sincere look at the areas of my life that make it "healthy" and a little more intentionality behind how I treat those areas. Before I even really knew just how important a routine of self-discipline would become for me, the Lord began pressing it firmly on my heart.
Just because it was pressed there, though, does not mean I achieved it perfectly...by any stretch. So, as I start 2012, it is time for a bit of an evaluation. I'm going to share with you my goals for self-discipline this last year and try to be honest about my progress and the 2011 results. And then share some ways I'm going to continue this same journey in 2012, RESOLVED to continue down the path the Lord set before me. Doesn't that sound a little more like what a New Year's Resolution should be about?
I mean, not that the Blizzard of the Month/Family Roadtrip idea isn't still rolling around in the back of my mind, too ;)

There were lots of random goals I set for myself in some key areas (physical health, financial health, family health, spiritual health).  Some may seem a little (or in some cases A LOT) random, but detailing out the reasoning behind each would take forever.  I know because I started this blog by doing just that and even I got bored with it.  Can you believe it?  This is actually the abbreviated version.  You are welcome.
I'd call that a Success
Read and journal Through the book of Nehemiah
Do not purchase drinks when eating out (no Starbucks, no Sonic, no tea at McAllisters or Celebrity, etc)
Complete financial commitment to Greater Things

A Good Effort, with plenty of room to Improve
Be intentional about how I spend time I have alone with RRL
Plan meals for two weeks at a time and grocery shop accordingly
Blog regularly to document good memories for our family
Plan ahead to make time I have at home with the kids more valuable (MMM)
Run/Exercise 3+ times every week
Thank Goodness 2012 offers a Fresh Start
Better sleeping habits with regular bedtime and waketime
Make the bed everyday
After evaluating these goals and the impact they had on me and our family, here are some things I am "resolved" to work on in 2012:
HOME- make the bed. declutter. retrieve/recover our bedroom.
HEALTH- Have a regular bedtime and waketime. Run. Drink water.
FINANCIAL. Ask and expect that the Lord will present regular opportunities for generosity. make decisions based on what allows for generosity not on what compares with others.
STORIES- share ours.  Listen to others.  Blog.
FAMILY- Guard Monday mornings with my kids.  Regular dates with RRL. Plan ahead for family dinners.  Consistent circle-time at night.
SPIRITUAL- to be honest, I'm not sure the specifics of this one yet.  seems a little backward right?  "Read Nehemiah" was such a clear directive this time last year.  not sure where to go next.  journal through another book?  keep working through Nehemiah? Read through the Bible from the beginning?  I'm not sure.  just being honest.

So there you have it.  A small glimpse into what isn't really a new resolution, but maybe a new boost in my resolve as I start this new year.  Here's to you and your fresh-slate in 2012!  What are some of the ways you are asking the Lord to make this the best year yet?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2011 Recap

As we start 2012, I have a whole post brewin' about my personal journey in 2011 and impact that has on how I am starting this new year.  But before we move on to that, I want to continue my tradition of doing a year-in-review recap for our family.  I am a little late for this "New Year's Eve tradition", but I'm cutting myself some slack.  That is harder for me than it sounds.

2011 was a CRAZY year for us, one we will never forget.  But it has been full of rich blessings, lots of fun, some super sweet family time and lots and lots of laughter.  I am so thankful for 2011!

In January, the highlight was celebrating our sweet Cbug's third birthday.  He had a "my favorite things" themed party because he could not decide between Thomas, Toy Story and McQueen.  In other January fun: KJ went to a birthday party he was not invited to.

In February it snowed. Twice.  The boys loved it.  Lou, not so much.  We celebrated Valentine's day with our three sweethearts.  And RRL and I got to be part of a local news story when we ran a half marathon "with" my brother who was stationed in Afghanistan.

In March, we passed the huge milestone of 10 years from the night I said YES by sharing our engagement story on the blog (part 1 and part 2).  The boys got to play soccer for the first time and enjoyed being on the "Green Slime" team together.  And for the first time we celebrated "Pi Day" at our house with circles galore.  Two highlights for me were a super fun girls' trip to Florida to celebrate the upcoming marriage of a dear friend.  And getting to cross the finish line of another half marathon, this time between by husband and my Momma (her first 1/2 marathon).

But most of the events of March and the following five months are blurred by the fact that mid-month our two nephews and a niece came to live with us for a while, filling our home with 6 children under the age of 5!

During the month of April the shock of our little crew was wearing off and we began settling in to a routine as a party-of-eight.  We even took the whole gang camping one night and also enjoyed an afternoon at the museum with Uncle D, who we were so thankful to be welcoming home from deployment.  Our continued adjustment got a boost with a bit of break by splitting the team up to celebrate Easter.  And just our little team of 5 enjoyed some time at Nonna and Papa J's house where I also got to be part of one of my best friend's wedding day.

At the tail end of April/Beginning of May we were blessed by a weekend away with RRL's sister and her family, who were visiting from Colombia.  And we celebrated a long awaited event for one member of our family when KJ FINALLY turned FIVE.  We enjoyed celebrating him all day long with festivities he planned, including the cake of his dreams and a super-fun outing with his buddies to Legoland.  We finished up the school year, went to KJ's preschool graduation and we were also starting to get a bit of a handle on a day-to-day routine in our house full of preschoolers.
In June, Princess Lou turned two and we had a small celebration with some friends, some cousins and ELMO! We also celebrated Father's day, went to Summer Spectacular and shared here about some of our everyday adventures with six kiddos in tow, including a super sweet party at my work for our party-of-eight.

For the fourth of July, we got to visit Nonna and Papa J again, and were so excited that Uncle M and Aunt S were there, too!  The kids loved getting to see Cars 2 with some of their favorite people.  We celebrated one of our favorite holidays (Cow Appreciation Day), the five big kids took swimming lessons, and all of the kids got to go bowling for the first time. RRL and I enjoyed an awesome retreat with some new friends and some incredible mentors and I got to go to LA for a quick work trip.  We also had one of the hardest weeks of the summer when all 6 kids and I got strep...and RRL escaped with a yucky stomach bug instead.  I was busy on the blog in July, sharing about our quite imperfect family, the beginning of my journey through Nehemiah and adventures at the grocery store.

After 152 days at our house, we said goodbye to our nephews and niece.  If trying to rearrange our routine to include them in our home was difficult, saying goodbye was a million times that but we knew this was only a piece of the story.  While it was time for them to go home and the right thing to happen, it was still sad.  I again leaned on the book of Nehemiah as we started trying to wade through what the months of having them with us would mean for us going forward.  But before they left, I had to share a bit more about life at our house and some tips like Circle Time. our Assembly Line and freezing PB&J sandwiches. In August we also had meet the teacher night where some teachers got to meet my cherubs (cough cough).

We started the month with a long anticipated day for Lou, the day she finally got to go to "Skoo" with her "Bruf-uhs" as our kiddos started back at the preschool we love so much.  We were also THRILLED to get to announce that a very sweet gift was on his/her way to us...we found out about baby #4 just a few days after our nephews and niece went home.  As we continued the adjustment back to having only 3 children in our home, I shared a bit more about my Nehemiah journey (and learning how to breathe).  RRL and I celebrated the fact that we completed our financial commitment to Greater Things, something which blessed us richly this whole year.
We also had a fun day at the Apple Orchard (which was technically closed) and enjoyed an awesome holiday camping vacation with some of our favorite people.  The kids and I also enjoyed a fun evening at my company's "Family day" celebration while RRL was out of town.

This month was filled with continuing traditions, like Pumpkin Patch pictures with some of our favorite photographers and having soup and grilled cheese on Halloween.  We also continued a tradition of NOT carving pumpkins when we made pumpkin people. My kids dressed up like characters from Lou's favorite story, Sleeping Beauty, and we captured one of my favorite pictures EVER of them.  We enjoyed our 10th reunion at the Homecoming of our Alma Mater.  I celebrated my birthday by helping raise money for Teen Lifeline (thanks so much to many of you that participated  in that celebration) and also with a Barbie birthday party (my very first) at our house.

RRL started the month by taking the boys at midnight to buy Cars2 on DVD, a super fun memory for all three of them.  We received the proofs from our most recent family photo shoot by Three.  They were INCREDIBLE.  A highlight was our little family get-away (in town) to GWL.  We also counted our blessings on leaves and turkeys all month and we enjoyed family fun during Thanksgiving with RRL's family at Grammy's house.  But not until after RRL and I finished our half-marathon that morning, no small feat for me at 18 weeks pregnant but I really did love getting to run it with him!  We found out, at the end of the month, that we were having a BOY! at a super fun gender-reveal party with our family and friends.  I also described some of the emotions of expecting our fourth baby.

In December, I finished the journey I started in January, journaling through the book of Nehemiah.  We spent the entire month doing a "Christmas countdown" with lots of fun family activities, putting an ornament on our paper tree each night.  Highlights from those activities included a pink play dough baby Jesus, visiting GWL with friends for story time, Cbug dressed up as the Baby in our nativity scene, Christmas carolling in our living room to stuffed animals, and a Christmas acrostic as our finale to the fun.  The kids had lots of fun at school with their Christmas parties and Christmas show.  Some not-so-fun highlights from the month were that the kids and I were in a car accident (everyone is fine) and I almost lost my diamond from my engagement ring (everything is fine now).  RRL's family was so blessed with the news that our littlest nephew arrived a few weeks early, but is perfectly healthy and beautiful.  We celebrated our family Christmas a little early and then we headed to Nonna and Papa J's house for some fun with a house full of aunts, uncles, grandparents and one grand-dog.  So much fun!  While we were there, RRL and I celebrated our 10th anniversary by being tourists in my hometown for the day. And through all of that, we tried to be mindful of the true spirit of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, something we treasure all year.

What a year!  I can't help but think that as I wrote this recap for 2010, all 2011 held for us was not even a blip on our radar.  I certainly had no idea we would have 3 additional children in our home for five months of it, and no idea that we would end the year anticipating another baby boy.     AND it makes me all-the-more committed to keeping up with this blog, I had so much fun looking back on the year to do this recap. 
Knowing that, I can honestly say that I cannot WAIT to see what 2012 holds...
and I can't wait to blog about it!


Monday, January 9, 2012

Christmas with Grammy

One final Christmas celebration had to wait until the first week of January until all of RRL's family could be in town.  Not that we minded spreading out the celebrations.  In fact, getting together in January meant that we really had more time that weekend to just enjoy being together.  And that was a true gift.
Speaking of gifts.  Its pretty sad that these kiddos did not get any.  They loved hiding behind the piles.

But even more, they loved just being with the gift givers.
They loved being at Grammy's house.

And getting to celebrate with Uncle J and Jac

More time with Aunt B is always high on their list of fun!

With that many people to love on them, there was never a shortage of anyone to play with them, giggle with them, snuggle them or read to them.  They loved it! 

And they loved the treats that come with being at Grammy's.  Like a cereal feast for dinner one night and a picnic lunch in the living room. 
These memories at Grammy's were a gift indeed!