Monday, December 12, 2011

twenty eleven in review


I just did a quick review of our pictures from the year b/c you know those times when you think- Hmm, what did we do this year? And ohh I'd forgotten so many sweet moments and relived some moments that I'm pining for now such as...the first warm days in March and when everything started blooming. It was a really beautiful spring this year cheesy as that may sound. I know some years are hard and some are easier but really every year is a huge gift. I know I'm being so cliche. Okay so I'll tell you some things I've loved about this year... playing in the snow, watching the kids make hilarious faces while sledding, Hallie learning to crawl, watching Ben play baseball (as long as I have help with Hallie- she is everywhere!), mom/daughter dates with Natalie (we love some Cupcakery), long walks in spring, Hallie learning to walk, crafting with the kids, painting, listening to Natalie talk about her horseback riding lessons(Michael's mom takes her), the BEACH (I would try to be more specific but I love every bit of it), summer oh sweet summer, swimming and then warming up in the sun, playing with friends, long walks in fall, making a new friend from Germany and experiencing so many new things with her, watching Michael and Ben bond over Legos, watching the gibbon (its a monkey! my dad thought I was making it up) at the zoo,Natalie learning to be more independent and going on her first girl scout camping trip overnight, our first family camping trip, my sister moving from Denver for Nashville (so much closer!!) finding a new church, watching my babies grow....
I realize over and over how much I have to be thankful for. I read this book Winter Garden last month, and it was a bit heartbreaking. Okay I bawled my eyes out at some parts as part of it is about the life this family had under Stalin during the war. It sounds rough but really it was a beautifully written book, and it flashes from the past to present day so its not quite so intense. ANYWAY, I was reminded of how much we have to be thankful for just having our freedom, our health, and food, and a warm house, and being together. But we are blessed with so much beyond what we need- with friends who really care about us, with extended family that is close by and willing to help, with really nice teachers this year, and I could go on and on. So this Christmas I'm giving thanks to God for everything including hope for this weary world (you know... the thrill of hope a weary world rejoices). Love and hugs from all of us - Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

tidings of comfort and joy



I knew it would happen like this....we would be busy with our lives plus Lina being here and then when she left BOOM the Christmas season would be here. Now we scarcely got through October without the kids convincing me to put the tree up, and we've had our Christmas cards sitting here for a few weeks already plus we even went to the Fantasy of Trees, but it hasn't FELT like Christmas until these last few days. One- being in the midst of holiday travel at the airport with carols blaring started it off, but then when we came home and the weather turned frigid (by Southern standards) that's what really made it real. I've spent the past two days snuggling up with my warm baby, wrapping gifts, and pulling my house back together after the Thanksgiving/packing Lina up chaos. We miss our Lina Lou and I find myself often calculating the time in Germany, but I'm happy to know she's safe back at home with her family and friends again. I don't think either of us will forget how special her time here was, and I think we learned a lot from each other. And now we have family in Germany, so how cool is that?! I would really love to visit someday and go see my friend Beth in Austria...if only the tickets weren't oh $1,300.
So here's to this beautiful season and wishing you all warm hearts and full bellies :).

Friday, November 25, 2011

November cheer


I don't know what happened to this month! Really, I'm shocked that (a) it will be December in just a matter of days and (b) Lina is going home to Germany tomorrow (tomorrow?!?). I don't remember really what we did this month, but I do know today I feel the pressure of fitting so much in. I'm thinking of things like oh we never played tennis, or went to a movie (although she went to one with a friend), went to Dollywood, etc. We had a really yummy and wonderful Thanksgiving with both sets of families and quick stop at my friend Cara's to find out (via the inside of a cake) that she's having a GIRL!! Her first girl and this is great b/c Hallie has another friends (her first new friend was born a few weeks ago). I know this is funny, but I totally envision all of them sitting around a little table having tea...in a few years... Anyway, I still have a full belly and a warm heart with thoughts of all I'm thankful for and that I got to be surrounded with all the people I love (well most of them). I got to see my BFF this week, and we even got away for a painting class together!!! We went to the Fantasy of Trees, and I finally got a photo of my kids with Santa. I guess we do have the one of Natalie crying when she was two, and the one of us with the Santa hired one year for his store (but that Santa had sort of a dirty mind and I really don't count him except I got a really cute up close one of him and Natalie). I really missed not seeing my sister (she was in Hilton Head of all places and I wish I could have been there too!), but I should be seeing her in the next few weeks. In the meantime I'll be getting ready for Christmas, and saying goodbye to Lina Lou :(. I'm so grateful her coming here and all she has brought to our family!
I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

trick or treat


quick pic- Natalie was "its raining cats and dogs", Ben was an army guy, and Hallie was a china doll. I really wanted to paint Hallie's cheeks but she wasn't having it! She was so confused about the whole thing, but she loved it. Lina was a ballerina, but I can't believe I forgot to get a photo!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

fall break


Our fall break was filled with lots of fun things... horseback riding for Nat and game day with Daddy, also an ice skating session that didn't go so well, Lina and I painted and came up with sewing projects, Ben had a fun day with M's parents all by himself, and Hallie did what she always does- a lot of exploring. We took this picture at M's parents house on Sunday. That was a pretty peaceful day. I think we were all exhausted!

Friday, October 14, 2011

have mercy

I have discovered Pinterest and, oh yes, its all its cracked up to be. I love it love love it. So while I spent a little time on this morning getting excited about Christmas gift ideas and the wonder of the internet my sweet baby was pouring pretzels on the floor and crushing them to bits and pulling toilet paper off of the rolls. :) Ah yes, the toddler years. Have mercy (thank you Uncle Jesse). Benjamin was quite confused that I wasn't so mad about the pretzels and that they were all still laying there an hour later. He said, "You do know that Hallie poured pretzels on the floor and crushed them up right?" I responded with an "awesome.", and since he doesn't understand sarcasm yet he really thought that I thought it was truly awesome. So he then admitted that he crushed up some of the pretzels too (since they were there and all) with a proud smile on his face. And since I had an hour of creative computer time this morning I smiled back (and then grabbed the vacuum).
Lina made some really amazing potatoes au gratin this week and news flash the best au gratin is WITHOUT cheese!! This still blows me away. Actually I don't know what au gratin means so if it means something with cheese and I will have to rename them. I'll just call them Lina's Potatoes and here's how they go- peel and slice potatoes as you would for any au gratin. Layer the potatoes in a baking dish (we did 8 X 8)Then pour cream over them so the cream is even with the height of the potatoes. Then salt ,pepper, and nutmeg those babies then toss it so its all seasoned evenly. Bake at 350 for an hour.
Lina went to youth group while they were cooking so we taste tested while she was out (with her permission). I got a WOW from Michael on the couch, and Ben said he would never eat potatoes again unless they were made exactly like this. Really they are so good and so much better than the ones with cheese. I know I can't believe it either.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

all its cracked up to be



Baby Hagood (quickly becoming a not so baby so I'm using that phrase as long as I can) has just been set up with some paper and a marker. She was gesturing to both and saying something in baby talk so I assume she wanted to draw. Ha. At any rate she is occupied for a few minutes, so I can reflect on the past few weeks.
I turned 30 since I last blogged, and that included a lot of celebration!! I have some really great friends and family that totally spoiled me and loved on me and assured me that I'm not old (smile). The weekend before the big day Lina, Cara, Noah, Natalie and I hiked the Chimneys. I hadn't meant for this to be a big deal, but it turned out to be a little more of a time .sacrifice than I planned. Live and learn, right? God gave us a seriously gorgeous day, and I was lovin' the fresh mountain air. The day of I got to see my friend Beth who I never get to see b/c she lives very far away, and a few other friends stopped by too! Basically it was a really wonderful day and I have some super great friends (not to mention my husband, parents, and in-laws!). I LOVE you guys! Theennnn me, Michael, the kids and Lina met my bro and his g.f. at my sister's new place in Nashville. Besides Ben having an allergic reaction to my sister's dog and a few other hitches in the smooth plans I had in my head (laugh) we all had a great time at Centennial Park, the Opryland Hotel, and shopping with the girls. I am so thankful for this little break from reality, and I spent some time thinking about the last decade, how my kids are growing up, and how much fun I've had but also how far I've come. I have so much to thank God for in my life, and I can truly say good time or hard times God is good all the time (a bit wild but good!).
Okay my time is up, Hallie now has red dots on her face, her ear, and scribbles on the chair. God bless whoever invented washable markers.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

spaetzle


Hard for me to spell and even harder for me to say but its a yummy meal from Germany. I can't believe Lina and I actually mixed some flour, eggs, and water together and created our own noodles with the special spaetzle maker. I'm becoming more talented by the day- just kidding! But we are having fun, and I'm learning great new meals!

horses



Natalie turns 9 tomorrow!! Her favorite thing to do right now is ride horses, so naturally that is what she wanted to do for her birthday. My friend Kate, Lina and I drove Natalie and her two best friends to Chattanooga to Aunt Carolyn's farm where she and our cousin Austin graciously led the girls around and gave them a really fabulous afternoon!

fallin' for fall


Pumpkins, apples, football, cool weather- fall is here!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

a few firsts






This has been a fun week full of "firsts"- Natalie's first time going to camp, Hallie's first taste of moon pie, Ben's first time at boy scouts and first all the time for Lina. I had my first go at Indian cooking. I added way to much water the first time with the rice, so it looked like a huge puffy cloud of rice mush. The next time I will follow Lina's mother's directions more carefully. :) It turned out well all things considered so this is good!

Monday, September 5, 2011

lake day







Celina (and Lina as we call her now) arrived safely last week! We are excited about our adventures together while she is here, and that started with...waterskiing! Lina bravely started with the wakeboard (first time) and moved to skis (first time since she was little). I'm not sure I'll ever be trying the wakeboard, but never say never I guess. We had so much fun! I was hoping we would get to tube, but a storm came through so I'm hoping for maybe one more day before the weather gets cold. Next up is adventures in cooking! Lina is teaching me a curry dish, quiche (we're talking with Gruyere cheese and nutmeg and a lot of love), and spaetzle this week.

lemon drop


Painting this made me so thirsty for lemonade! I just had to be careful I didn't put the brush in it. :) Happy Birthday Kate!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

summer fades


Oh summer you were beautiful. I unceremoniously took down our summer to do list today. School started Monday so I knew it was time, but I couldn't bring myself to do it until today. Good-bye unstructured summer of fun, of campfires and sleeping beneath the trees (in a camper :)), of one lemonade stand, many library trips, attempting to grow a garden (I found out I love basil!), of sand in places it should not be, of wet and salty but happy children playing in the waves, of shrieking in the pool,of VBS, of sleeping in 'til 8, of Baby's 1st birthday, of endless possibilities. We lived summer long and sweet, and now I'm happy to be moving on to a new season of crisp air (sometime soon please), structure, and kids asleep by 8 (hallelujah!). The kids love their teachers (as do I) and seeing friends again, so for this moment all is right in the world.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

summer art




The last few weeks I've had a sudden creative surge, so here is a bit of what I've been up to...
I also painted something more mature that I love, but its a birthday gift so I can't post it yet.

Friday, July 29, 2011

crayon makin'



I saw this craft last Christmas and thought I had to try it sometime. It turns out Benjamin had a ton of old, broken crayons leftover from school last year, and we needed a little prize for a party game so....this was perfect. Heat oven to 225 and "bake" for 20 mins. in silicone tray. Then let rest and harden for a few hours. We had a heart-shaped one for ice cubes. I have no idea where you get them, but in the example I saw the girl used an alphabet one that was so cute. I say google search it. Here is the tutorial I used...
http://www.lifeingraceblog.com/2010/11/12-days-handmade-christmas-tutorials-day-8alphabet-crayons.html

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

they say its her birthday da da da da daa



Today I'm sitting with a Happy Birthday Hallie banner tied up on the window next to me, little bags of crayon heart favors in front of me (fun craft will post on that later), and my i calendar says its July 27th, but I still find it hard to believe. How has it been a year? I have a beautiful, healthy, spirited girl that I'm celebrating a year with. But then why do I find myself holding back tears about everything including Amy Winehouse's death? Well, although I know close to nothing about her or her music she was someone's little girl after all. Why though? I think its one of those things that I will know later on and maybe today I shouldn't ask myself so many questions. I will let myself be sad to say good-bye to the tiny baby year- the first time I held her, the first gummy smile, the first laugh, crawling, her first steps... I can wrap those up in a beautiful box and close the lid. They were a year of gifts from God, and I can open the lid on a new year (hopefully one that includes a full night's sleep). It's not time to pack up all the ruffle bottomed pants and tiny shoes yet. She's still a baby, and we still have so many things to explore and learn together. So happy birthday sweet girl! I love you so much.

Monday, July 25, 2011

a little bit on love



I read my journal entry today from exactly one year ago, and wow was I going through a lot. I was going in to be induced the next day, and I had just moved into our new house the day before. On one hand I'm sooo glad that to be a year away from that-- settled in the house, used to life with Hallie, not on the brink of giving birth (ha). On the other hand, it was such an exciting time. I was about to meet our daughter, who I now know and love and can't imagine life without. It was all so overwhelming it was hard to digest. I have tears in my eyes even now. I felt God's presence so strongly b/c I was so in need of strength outside of my own, and I felt the love of friends and family so much. I needed them, and was so humbled that so many people stepped in to love on me and us. I really really hope I'm as good of a friend as they were, and that I love on those people as strongly as they've loved me (and continue to do so). It really is true that everything comes down to faith, hope and love and the greatest of those really is love.
Here's the other thing- I've learned to not envy any one else's life, and God gave me this verse when I was in NC ....Don't you love it when God shows you a verse and says hey this is you right now? Well, I didn't at the time, but now I'm really thankful for it....... James 3:16 (NCV)
" Where jealousy and selfishness are, there will be confusion and every kind of evil." It's true - envy is ugly and when it worms its way in it makes you resentful and dissatisfied (is that a word?) and open to every kind of evil (EVERY KIND OF EVIL?!). Don't mess with it peeps.
Okay now the kids are home, and therefore I've lost the ability to think clearly. I meant to also say that we are having such an amazing summer, but I will be celebrating the return of normalcy and schedules in 3 weeks. The other moms and I will have a party- just kidding- sort of. I feel like I am cleaning the same messes every day, and I really miss having every morning to run to the gym or do errands with just one child instead of three. Also, Hallie turns one on Wednesday!! I have mixed emotions on this, but mainly I'm looking forward to having a few friends over and celebrating.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

playin' in the dough



Play doh has been on my list of things we "needed" for awhile, but I always forget to buy some. Anyway, in a fit of desperation I googled things to do with kids in the summer and found this recipe for play doh. I've seen the homemade kind that is sort of rough and does not look fun to play with, but this turned out pretty smooth and half the fun was in making our own. I tried to make red but it looked like raw hamburger meat (gag), so I added blue then it looked like a brain, so more red and blue and red and blue and Ben pronounced it the color of poop. Sigh, my color did not turn out so well but the others did and they loved the one we only added sprinkles to. Here's the recipe:
2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
2 Tablespoons veg. oil
1 Tablespoon cream of tarter

Put in large saucepan and cook over low heat until it pulls together and is no longer sticky. Let cool and knead until smooth. Then fold in food coloring being careful not to touch the coloring until it is kneaded in. I did the best I could but I got a little careless and looked like I'd just been in surgery (as the surgeon).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

camping





This week we went camping. Camping!!! Now I've gotten pretty good at the faux camping-blankets draped over chairs and maybe a fire in the fireplace or a fake one made of whatever is available (rolled up construction paper anyone?). The real camping is everything I hoped for all the reasons you can imagine. I loved watching the kids having a real adventure. I loved that when we went to the cascades to swim they were a little scared to get in and settled on wading around the waters and throwing rocks until their dad showed them what to do. Then they were soaked head to toe, jumping, sliding, and splashing with the biggest smiles possible. I think my favorite part was when we were all sitting around the campfire and Ben drew a picture for Michael of him sitting by the fire and saying "ahhhh". Yes, it was a much needed getaway. I thought for a minute the campfire smell would be permanently infused in our hair and skin, and it felt really good. Happy weekend and happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Isn't she lovely?


My big girl...so much like me but with a fun combo from her dad. I'll think I have her pegged but then she surprises me. She's got a big heart. She's growing up so fast, and constantly amazing me with her questions, what she knows, how much she's already figured out about the world. Last night she was laying in bed with her pajamas on and I dropped her flip flops by the bed and nodded toward the door. I thought the fireflies weren't coming this year, but I just wasn't waiting out long enough for them. So when we opened the door she smiled big and knew what I was showing her- a magic moment.

grand plans




Its VBS week, so the kids have been at church from 9-noon every day. I had grand plans for what I would do with this time, but even on the most productive day all I did was go for a walk and take a shower before it was time to pick them up. Every mother knows that time away from the kids is deceptive especially if you have another one you have to take with you. I was going to go to the gym after the art store, but after 10 mins. in the art store Hallie was so cranky and sleepy we had to just go home for her nap. Ah well, I really don't mind. I know from experience that these days go quickly and I enjoy slow, quiet days anyway. I did finally get to making a name sign for Celina even though she won't be here for another two months, and I made some homemade bread that is amazing. Isn't it always that when you make something from home you always claim you'll never buy it again? I do but the breadmaking is a bit of a long process, so we'll see how long this keep up. I found the recipe here...http://www.flythroughourwindow.com/recipes/
We had a really fan.tas.tic afternoon with the Rymers on Monday. It was one of those miraculous times when all the kids get along and K and I got to talk and sip on Sobe pina coladas- those are SO good, please try. Hallie was sitting next to me as we were talking and I looked over and saw her slightly slumped. She was asleep! No crying or even fussiness, so I just laid her on the cushion for a nap. I'm telling you it was perfect afternoon!
I've also been painting a lot and loving that. I'm posting the silhouette I did for our friend Bennett, and I'm thinking about trying to sell these on Etsy???
We have grand plans for the summer so we'll see what adventures we fall into. We're hoping for camping, Dollywood, and the beach to name a few. Love summer!!.... You've got to keep your head up heyy ayy and you can let your hair down heyy ayyy..... (It's stuck in my head-might be my summer anthem.)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

growing up




When I was really young I can remember thinking that I just could.not.wait to grow up. Then I hit twelve/thirteen and started getting a little freedom. I felt like life was REALLY beginning, then started driving, dating, then whoosh got married, and whoosh somehow I have three children of my own and am a for real adult. I know that if my very young self could see myself now she would think wait I don't mean that old. Ha- you know that song "Strawberry Wine" with the line "when thirty was old". Not that I think thirty is old by any means but I'm saying all this to say that I've been reflecting the last week on how high school seems like yesterday and now I'm seeing my old friends and realizing how very grown up we are (despite how sometimes act when we're together) and how fun it is seeing everyone morph into their adult selves. Really its beautiful, and I love how we've settled into our real selves, and that everyone is different. Even those of us who are moms are doing things differently and using our time in different ways outside of the mom role. I love getting to know my old friends in a new way...
This brings me to my visit with my old roommate Coco last week who she just opened a salon in town. I love it. It's so relaxing, and she basically had to kick me out b/c it felt like an oasis from real life. All the fun smells, colors, furniture had me exploring around like Curious George. I was seriously filled with a childlike wonder as if I am never let out of the house, and now I'm a bit embarrassed about that. I drank coffee like I had never had it before. I opened essential oils and sniffed around to find the best one. You get the picture, but just in case you don't here are a few that I took that day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

the baby sleeps tonight




Ohh eeeeee the baby sleeps tonight. Ohh eeee okay sorry this is really false advertising because Hallie is sleeping like she has for months and months which means she wakes up somewhere between 2 and 5 and I take her to our bed where we blissfully curl up together and I feed her for about 5 mins. before she falls asleep and I do also with my last conscious thought being "I should really put her back in her crib now". Then she always attacks her poor dad at some point. This morning I found them curled up together except in a strange way that involved her feet being in his face and him being pushed almost off the bed. The doctor said I should let her cry it out at night, but you know that doctor has a 13 yr. old daughter and I don't think she remembers what its like to let them cry it out b/c it is straight misery. I tried really hard last night to let her just put herself to bed, but after ten minutes I felt like I was going to literally pull my hair out or maybe someone else's or worse...way worse. So I did what I think any mother has the natural instinct to do and held her and rocked her and ran my hands through her short hair until she surrendered to sleep ten (much more peaceful) minutes later. I don't think I like my doctor. Anyway, I took this photo of her yesterday during a nap. Ohh I love it when she sleeps these days. I really can't get much done when she's awake and it seems my entire energy goes to feeding her and keeping her away from choking hazards (as in legos, Nerf darts, puppy in my pocket...). I am so happy when she falls asleep and I can do something crazy like get the dishes AND laundry done or take a shower without hearing screaming from her crib or worrying what she has her hands on now. The good news is that she will occupy herself for a short time in her room at her little kitchen now- mainly sucking on pretend fruits and veggies and banging them together. That's where she is now in fact.
Okay so on to the other photo. Its teacher appreciation week and thanks to Family Fun I got the idea to make these paper tea cups by drawing the shape of a tea cup on some cute paper and cutting out two of them, glue together sides, and place packages tea bag inside, then glue ribbon inside with a tag glued to the other side of the ribbon that says "You're a great TEA-cher!". Also, if you haven't read this retelling of Cinderella by Cynthia Rylant you should find it. I adore this book! She has written many children's books and really has a way with words. It had me at the first page....
This is a story about darkness and light, about sorrow and joy, about something lost and something found. This is a story about Love. I think that quote should proceed the Bible.