Friday, December 30, 2011


It's hard to believe that I posted the Candyland party just a year ago. My babies are growing up without my permission. I'm having a bit of trouble letting go, so Lydia will have to be the "baby" for a little while longer. She celebrated her second birthday two days ago, and while her actual party won't be until next month, I made her a pink chocolate cake to eat with just the six of us. She spent her day reading books with mommy, taking care of her baby doll, and playing with her sisters and brother.

Lydia came into our lives when we least expected it. Bill still vividly remembers eating at a restaurant with our three small kids, when I came back from the bathroom and quietly announced I was pregnant. I didn't have a pregnancy test at the restaurant, obviously, but after going through three pregnancies, I knew the signs. When we confirmed it was true a few days later, we were both in utter shock. We thought we were happy with three children and weren't looking to add to the family- at least not yet. But here she was, and it didn't take long to fall madly in love with the little baby growing inside. Life surrounding the pregnancy came with its ups and downs- Bill made a career change, and we moved to another town closer to where I grew up. I even gracefully broke my foot in the garage on the very day we closed on our new house. Actually, it was the literal first step I took into the new home. So I had the pleasure of unpacking and setting up our new home while pregnant and hobbling on one foot. Kudos to my mom and aunt for helping me out in those first few days. Bill was working out of town for several months of the pregnancy, so I was definitely lonely most of the time. It was comforting to know, though, that the baby was growing normally, and everything seemed to be right on track.We soon found out it was a girl (yay!) and while I've always loved the name Caroline (with a long i) we agreed on names from my mom's side of the family- Lydia Kate. I felt blessed beyond what anyone deserves, and even with all the pains of pregnancy, I was so very happy. The day that she was born was magical-my mom and husband were by my side, and I had an amazing OB who listened to what I wanted for the labor and delivery. Other than a brief but very scary moment when my blood pressure plummeted, there were no complications. It was pure joy the moment I reached down and pulled her up to my chest. She was beautiful- and screaming mad. I laughed and told Bill she was already throwing a fit. She is still able to hold her own and take care of herself.

Lydia is our little firecracker. She loves to read books- nonstop to the point that I can read her favorites with my eyes shut tight- and takes relatively good care of her baby dolls. Her new bitty baby that Grandma gave her for Christmas "poo poos" a lot, and needs countless diaper changes. Lydia is our first baby to love sleep, and that is just dandy with me. She sleeps past 9am most mornings, and takes three hour naps during the day. She is a late talker, but babbles in what I'm pretty sure is Russian. She has dark eyebrows, big beautiful brown eyes, and light brown hair that is taking its time to grow in. That's ok though- she looks more like a baby because of it. She loves to be prissy in dresses and skirts, and wears her gold bangle bracelet and pearl necklace every day. She is still madly in love with her passy (pacifier), and it's going to be a dark day when we take it away from her. We transitioned her to a toddler bed on Christmas Eve, which was harder on mommy than anyone else.

Lydia is such a joy to our lives. She has had more than her fair share of medical problems in this past year, but with our Lord's help we'll get her through it all. There is nothing I would change about her coming into our family. I'm so thankful that God crashed past birth control and used His own will to bring her to us. Love you, baby girl. Love you so very much.

First time I saw her pretty screaming face.

Newbie- so little!

 Daddy and his baby girl.

Nine days old.

Wearing her Mexican dress we bought her while on our cruise.

 Easter 2011

Daddy reading her a bedtime story.

Mother's Day 2011

Ready to go play miniature golf at the beach this past summer.

She loves being a big kid going to preschool with her brother this year! Two hours twice a week. 

Playing with her popgun.

Cute sprinkle face. 

 Two years old!

I love her expression!

Our Christmas baby- love you, beautiful!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Joy Inexpressible

Matthew 18:3 And He said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

May 3, 2011- Madeline personally accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord, Savior, and Friend.
Recently, in obedience to the Lord, she asked to be baptized.
Today- was that day.

Matthew 19:14 Let the little children come to Me...

and do not forbid them...
 for of such...

 is the kingdom of heaven.

 1 Peter 1:8 Though now you do not see Him, yet believing...

 you rejoice...

 with joy inexpressible...

 Luke 1:47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tis the Season

I love Christmas time- the tree, decorations, wrapped presents, music- everything about it. It's one time out of the year that my husband and I give our children gifts without much restraint. I have wonderful memories of Christmas as a child, and feel so blessed to now do the same for my own children. But it's funny- I am a strong believer in Christ, yet I feel like I view Christmas a little differently than most born-again Christians.

I grew up hearing the saying "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" and that the meaning of Christmas was not in presents, or decorations, but in a baby born one night long ago. Today many Christians are offfended by the greeting "Happy Holidays!" because it doesn't specifically acknowledge Christmas. This time of year has become very commercialized, with advertisements for the holiday starting in early October. This materialism in society has led many Christians to limit the amount of gifts they give- not based on finances, but based on a desire to emphasize the Savior's birth rather than materialism. Another part of the season rejected by many is Santa. He is considered evil by many because he is viewed as trying to take the place of Christ this time of year.

So, I'm taking a brave step here and, in numerical fashion, revealing my own take on Christmas. I say brave because I don't think these are views widely held among Christians. Ok, here it goes...

1. I'm not offended by the phrase Happy Holidays.
It doesn't even annoy me. I'm not afraid to say Merry Christmas back, by any means. To me- the great part about this country is that no one is forced to celebrate Christmas, or even to be merry about it.

2. I don't believe Santa is evil.
I think he can be pretty fun- there are lots of great movies out about him- Polar Express and Arthur Christmas are two of my current favorites. That said, I don't believe in lying to my children either, so when my older girls bluntly asked if he was real, I didn't shake in my boots and break out in a sweat wondering what to tell them. And they weren't devastated by my answer, because there hadn't been an elaborate display beforehand to keep the dream alive. We still leave out reindeer food and cookies, and visit him at the mall. But I don't glare at his image every time I see him, or fear that he is trying to take the place of Jesus. He doesn't have that much power, at least in our house.

3. I don't limit Christmas presents, unless you're talking in terms of a preset financial budget.
I hear lots of people say that if three gifts were good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for their kids. If that works for their family and it is their conviction to do so, I completely respect that. But that philosphy is not in this house. We don't buy our kids a lot of extras throughout the year, so this is one time of a sort of unbridled restraint. Watching their joy build up to Christmas day, anticipating the gifts they will receive- I have more fun than they do! Remember that joy you felt as a kid Christmas Eve?! This is the part of parenthood where it's ok to live vicariously through your kids! I remember myself being a compassionate, caring child who wanted to help others. Receiving Christmas gifts once a year didn't dilute me for the upcoming year and turn me into a selfish person only concerned with materialism. We are raising our children to be compassionate, and are serving their community by feeding the homeless and donating toys to underprivelaged children. Buying them Christmas presents once a year does not take those values away.

4. Jesus is not the reason for the season. (Sort of.)
Now, before you begin questioning my salvation, let me explain. First of all, Christmas itself was originally a pagan holiday. I am not intending to start a history debate-I'm not in the least interested, actually- but in my humble opinion, if one is to consider Halloween an evil holiday, one must consider that both Christmas and Easter once were pagan holidays, more so than Halloween in my view since at least that holiday was originally All Saints Day. Christmas and Easter in modern day is like making lemonade out of lemons, and is a wonderful way for Christians to unite in remembering our Savior. But celebrating and recognizing the literal Christmas season  is not a commandment from the Bible! He most likely wasn't even born this time of year. What the Bible does command, however, is to remember Jesus all the time. We won't be held accountable for how we celebrated December 25 and the surrounding days. We WILL be held accountable for how we celebrated God's Holy Son January 1st through December 31st. I want to be thankful for my Jesus every single day, and rejoice in His birth so often that when the day of his real birth rolls around unbeknownst to me, I've already given thanks that morning. I want to live out a life that acts as if it is Christmas every day.

So, as I sit here admiring my Christmas decorations, I am thanking my God in Heaven that He loved me so much that He sacrificed His own Son for me. Tell me, what more could He give?? Let's celebrate. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hello Kitty Times Five


If you know my Madeline, you know the following: she smiles nonstop (she has since birth), is dramatic to the max, and is infatuated with Hello Kitty. So with her third request in five years for yet another Hello Kitty birthday party, I was worried I wouldn't be able to find any new creative ideas. Thankfully I was wrong.

I came up with the idea for the invitation during a period of insomnia. The other side gave the party info. Lots of tracing and cutting, but I got to use glittery scrapbook paper and stickers. Not to mention pink ribbon.

I decorated the foyer with pink bows. I loved them so much they stayed around for a couple weeks after the party. I would have left them up longer, but then realized I'm not five years old anymore, and so shouldn't decorate my house long term as if I were.

I bought these plain white lanterns and decorated them as Hello Kitty. There is even pink glitter on the bow. These also stayed around for an extra couple weeks.

The flowers came from a local florist. I then decorated some flowers to look like Hello Kitty. Amazing what you can do with a little hot glue.

The party table. I swear that I hurriedly ironed the tablecloth- though this picture clearly shows I missed some spots.

Cake pops need a better name- something that involves the words labor and tedious. The amount of time it takes to eat one of these scrumptious pops is not at all relative to the time it took to make each one. (Did I mention these took a long time to make?)

Hello Kitty fruit arrangement. I just spray painted the bucket and used cookie cutters to cut the pineapple.

Hello Kitty bow pasta.

Artist I am not, but the kids loved them.

Madeline requested cupcakes this year instead of a cake. I used a vegan recipe for the cake and icing, so Lydia was able to eat them too.

Guests were decorated as kitties upon arrival, and could make beaded friendship bracelets. They also played Pin the Bow on Hello Kitty (of course!)

My baby girl- at least I have one child out of four that clearly looks like me.


The littlest kitty.

My "older" kitties.

My girls!

Madeline is about to be "surprised". I should explain that this was actually a surprise party. Madeline had told me weeks before that she wanted the party to be a surprise. Once everyone arrived, she would go upstairs to her room, the guests would hide, and then we would call her back downstairs and yell surprise. She was very serious about this part, and reminded me almost daily until party day that this was very important to her.

My boys. Handsome, aren't they?

Happy fifth birthday Madeline! You love kindergarten and your teacher; you amaze me nonstop with your incredible ability to read anything and everything; I love that adorable smile that takes over your entire body each and everytime. You still sneak into our room at night to get extra snuggles. You love Jesus and praise Him nonstop. You witness to all your friends, and ask Mommy nearly every day to ask their mommies if they will go to church with us. You teach me so much, baby girl. I love you!!