Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lookout Broadway...Here We Come!

Our church's Children's Christmas Play was last night. It was titled 'Meet Me At the Manger' and here are me and my four great kids!

Handsome was 'Emerald' the chef, Reece Cup was a shepherd, I was 'Ms. Ellie', Baby Girl played 'Miss O'Riley', and Princess was a caroler (I call her my little Cindy Lu-Who with those candy cane antlers on!). This is Baby Girl's last year since she is 12 and she wanted to do the play with me again (I also had a role in last year's play) so she volunteered me when I wasn't around and then told me about the part!

We had so much fun, and are so glad it's over!

Friday, December 12, 2008

I Love Living Here!

The Bible says that whatever state we're in, we should be content. Well, I'm going to take that literally and tell you that I absolutely LOVE living where I do. Who wouldn't love this...

It's Amazing What a Little Elbow Grease and Paint Will Do

It's so easy to get caught up with the business of life and let our homes go, not realizing that if we just take a little time and put a little effort into it, we can drastically change the look and feel of our home.

Just look what a little elbow grease did (ok, for this it was quite a bit but oh, so worth it!) ...

A quick roll of the paint roller...

And a quick use of .98 spray paint (for now I simply placed cushions on the seats, in the spring I plan to recover them)...

I hope this encourages you to look around your home and see what things you can easily clean up and change the appearance of with just a little bit of work and time. It's so worth it, and your family will thank you.

Our First Experience with Lapbooks

(One of the cool things about homeschooling...
you can wear your sunglasses to class!)

Since I'm playing catch-up with my blog posts, I wanted to share our very first lapbooks. Wait a minute... no. First we did a Christopher Columbus one, then this one. I must have forgotten to take pictures of those! Shock! I'll have to do that and share them later.

Anyway, these are our Presidential Election lapbooks I bought from Five in a Row. This was my first time purchasing anything from the FIAR digital store, and when I first looked it over after downloading it I was a bit surprised. It didn't seem like there was a lot there. But I was quickly proven wrong. Just like the FIAR lessons, you can either add to it or leave some out to make it just perfect for your children!

With this study we learned SO MUCH... the Primaries and how they work, the electoral college and why each state has a certain number of electors, how the election is won by winning states with the most electoral votes, we learned about each of the two candidates, what Republicans and Democrats typically stand for, the job of the president, we colored maps to see how each candidate became their respective party's representative (which states each of those running won in the primaries), and so much more. We then colored maps the night of the election as each state was called.

If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend purchasing some of Jane's Fold & Learn studies. They are well worth it!

Better Late Than Never

The fall and into the holiday season is always a busy time for our family. With football, school, my birthday, family visiting, our annual fall cleaning (the inside AND outside of the house) to get ready for fall and then Christmas decorating, and everything else, I missed blogging about some things I wanted to share. So I thought, since I have a few minutes tonight, I would try to do some catching up.

Here are some pictures from this fall...

Picking apples with Papaw.

Beautiful fall colors.

Enjoying the leaves at the park.

And this is how I found Princess one day. See that bit of pink on her cheek? She was trying to hide that she had been into the icing! Silly girl.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How We Will Be Spending December, Thanks to Missey

I've been doing some reflecting lately, and my thoughts have continuously turned to Missey Gray, just as they have for the past two Christmases.

2006 was a hard year for our close-knit Five In A Row family. We lost two young mothers that year, Missey in March and Lorrie on Thanksgiving Day.

Neither of these women knew that 2006 would be their last Christmas with their children and husband. But it was. I've been thinking, what if this was MY last Christmas? What things would I do differently than every other year in the past? Would I rush around and overbook our family until the holidays had passed us right by or would I keep us home just as much as possible and savor every moment of every day with my children? Would I continue to stay behind on my housework because I was too lazy to get up in the mornings before my children got up or would I make sure it was done and stayed done so we could spend our days cuddling under a blanket reading, or maybe watching a good Christmas movie and baking cookies and drinking hot chocolate?

Thank goodness Missey also had this revelation that final Christmas season. Listen to a little bit of her wisdom...

"For now, I'm enjoying making memories with my family and letting all the worries and stresses roll right off my back. They'll be there for another day. But for today I'm going to get my Love Bank filled back up with kisses and hugs and quiet conversations (while making those same kinds of deposits into each of my loved one's Love Banks) and regain the strength to face all those worries and stresses that will still be waiting for me come January. I think that by then they won't seem so big anymore anyway."

(Read the rest of what she had to say here). How thankful I am that her children now have those wonderful memories of their mommy and their time with her during their last Christmas together.

In honor and memory of Missey and Lorrie, I hereby declare that in our home the whole month of December will be spent making wonderful, warm memories with my family and taking the time to do what THEY want. We'll sing and dance and laugh, we'll play board games and barbies and cars. We'll do each other's make-up and hair and we'll get down on the floor and wrestle. We'll put puzzles together and color together and write letters to Santa together... yep, even mom!

We'll bake cookies for our neighbors and deliver them. We'll make and decorate a gingerbread house and then eat it! We'll cuddle under warm blankets and read lots and lots of good books. We'll make homemade hot chocolate and sip it while we read Jotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent.

We'll drive around and look at all the Christmas lights. We'll go see the live nativity and the Orchestra and Choir's annual Christmas presentation while wearing our Santa hats and trying to get the TV cameras to turn to us! We'll shop and giggle at secrets and wrap presents for our loved ones.

We'll pray and read all about Jesus's birth and we'll bake Him a birthday cake. We'll take lots of pictures and perform in our church's annual Christmas play. We'll pray and love and laugh and make the most wonderful memories all while savoring each and every day.

Hmmm... maybe we should do this every day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Because More Is So Much Better!

Because we have two computers (our original one we bought YEARS ago and Sweetie's old work laptop) we have pictures on both. So here are more pictures of my new baby niece, from the other computer.

These two black and white pictures are ones I took and turned B&W. I used to take the newborn's pictures at our local hospital and these are two poses I would usually do.

And last but certainly not least, here's my brother and his new family. Aren't they cute!

I Never Knew It Would Feel Like This

I grew up an only child, but I am not an only. I have, what most people call, a half-brother. We share the same father, but not the same mother. (My kids like to call him my "brotha from anotha motha" LOL).

But in our eyes, not having the same mother makes us no less brother and sister. We look alike, we think alike, we feel a lot of the same things and even though we were kept apart for far too many years, it is amazing how many ways we are alike. We like the same foods, the same candy, the same pop. We do things alike without even realizing it. We even both made the same wrong turn one night while not seeing the other one make the mistake first!

When I was 10 and my brother was 3 we were kept apart for the next 7 years. We already lived 865 miles apart. Wasn't that bad enough? After those seven years it was still very sporadic contact. But a few years ago we rekindled our relationship and it is now stronger than it's ever been. I love him fiercly and can't wait to spend time with him and talk to him and do things together. The only problem is? There are 385.06 miles seperating us. Yes, exaclty that far.

And what did he go and do but make me an aunt. A real, 100%, blood-related aunt. I've been an aunt 8 times over on my step-dads side and 11 times over from Sweetie's family and I absolutely LOVE it. I love all my neices and nephews in a very special, deep way and would do anything for them. I love when they climb up into my lap and give me those precious hugs and kisses. I love when the older ones talk with me about things going on in their lives and I love being there for them.

But OH. MY. GOODNESS. I never, in a million years, have ever felt such a strong, passionate love for anything (next to my own children, of course) like I did the first time I held my new baby neice in my arms last week. As soon as I picked her up the tears poured (from me, not her). I can't describe it. It's unlike anything I have ever felt before.

I wanted to sit and hold her and just stare at her for days on end, and I would have if my darn kids would have left me alone and quit bugging me to hold her themselves! Sheesh. I gave her at least a million and one kisses the four days she was here. I got to feed her, change her, lotion her, bath her, and get up with her during the night. Words can not describe to you how much love and joy filled my heart just being able to do those things.

When they pulled out of our driveway to return home, I could not stop the tears that came. I know I'll see them again in a few months (hopefully), but that's not soon enough. Babies grow and change so fast and I don't want to miss a thing! I want to take her shopping and tickle her little belly and smother her with kisses. I want to let her mommy and daddy get some much-needed sleep and get up with her at night again. I want to give her a bath and cuddle her little yummy, lotioned body up against mine. I want to take loads of pictures and I want my kids to play with her and I want to watch her grow, day-by-day.

I'm so thankful that my brother and I are now making up for lost time, but visiting once every few months is just not enough. Sure we talk on the phone and chat on-line, but it's not the same as being able to look at each other while talking, giving each other a hug or a pat (which we both do often), or simply being close.

I also love being a new big sister to my brother's fiance! I daydream about her and I taking day-long shopping trips or helping her decorate her living room or getting a phone call asking how to cook something. She's 14 years younger than me and while I desperatly don't want to sound like a know-it-all to her and try really hard not to, I love giving her tips or advice or maybe just some encouragement, you know, "been-there-done-that, here's what we did, it'll be ok" type of stuff.

Sigh... just thinking about them gets me all choked up again. The only family I've really ever had is my mom and then my step-dad's family. Once I married Sweetie, of course, I inherited his wonderful family and I couldn't have hand-picked a better one to become a part of. But it's still not the same. I see him and his siblings interact and talk and laugh and cut-up and my heart aches for that with my own brother.

Who knows. Maybe the opportunity will come for them to move here some day. It's been discussed several times, but it's a big step. Leaving family, finding a job and a place to live. You know, all that silly important stuff.

So what's the point of me telling you all of this? I don't know really. Just needing to get it all out maybe. Or maybe to explain why I am posting so many pictures of my new baby neice. She is the most perfect and beautiful thing I've ever held, next to my own children of course, and I want to share her precious face with everybody! Plus, she pretties up my blog, dontcha think?

See that adorable, soft, ducky fleece blanket she's laying on? Yep. Her favorite aunt made that for her, thankyouverymuch.

See! Doesn't she look like she belongs in the country more than the city?

Mmm mmm... don't you just love those precious baby kisses? This isn't me, it's mommy, but don't worry, I definitely got my share!

This, however, is me with her. I was loving those adorable little chipmunk cheeks and making funny faces with them. I promise, it was much funnier in person.

However, I don't think she really needs my help to make funny faces. Looks like she's got it down pretty good!