visual highlights

My heart is full.  Here are a few reasons why:

My quartet getting ready to go to the Christmas Eve service.  The pics with a flash look too bright and cold, this pic is fuzzy, but sparkling.

The girls were troopers to wear their super warm wool dresses for our not-so-cold Christmas.  They are truly all I want for every holiday from now until forever.  Who can resist this sweetness?
all I want for Christmas is my FIRST TOOTH!  (number 2 pushing through as I type)
As for the excitement of PRESENTS... WOW!  The ripple effect from over stimulation is still rockin' our boat.  It was actually upsetting to Hazel to receive so many wonderful presents because all she wanted to do was PLAY!  It took us an entire day to get through the gifts from Santa, parents, and one set of grandparents.

However, as you can see, the annoyance of having to focus on opening presents was minor compared to her complete glee over every new thing (though I have to admit, the whoopie cushion in her dad's stocking is Hazel's most played with gift).  Heidi also really enjoyed all the fun!  She's still having a blast crawling around the house exploring and picking out which toys to play with.  Currently she's neck deep in a basket full of all her new books!

As for me, I've enjoyed hosting Jake's mom and stepdad, his brother who made a super cool gift I'll feature later, three of my cousins and FINALLY... my sister, bro-in-law and NIECE from Alaska!  BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER!
Hazel @ 29 months, Annie @ 15 months, Heidi @ 9 months
matching outfits compliments of their Grandma Llama.  I get my love of matchy-matchy honestly :)  Heidi was NOT enjoying this frosty photo shoot!

in general, I don't think my girls look much like their cousin... until I saw  this picture!  WOW!
This weekend, we'll share some Christmas and New Year celebrations with Jake's dad and stepmom.  I love stretching out holidays so the flame of excitement gets lots of time to warm our hearts.

oh, one more pic 'cause I just love these girls so SO SO much!


it's the most wonderful time

I'm a bit behind on my to-do list, but DESPITE THE FACT THAT I'VE BEEN UP SINCE 4:30 (oh Hazel, I can't wait to return these favors someday), I'm going to have an uber productive day and then get to relax and enjoy the next few days.  Sounds like a tall order, but it's achieveable.

Hubby begged and pleaded with me to take a nap today since our kids will be napping at their grandparents house.  Seems he thinks I might push myself too hard and then be a bit cranky tonight.  BA HUM BUG.  Oh, that proves him correct... Well, I arranged these kid-free hours to get things done and done will be done (that makes sense to me)!

My goals for today are:  clean the entire house, prep Christmas day foods & wrap presents.  I should have no problem doing all of that in about 3-4 hours if I have no "helpers" in the house!  This evening, we will finally decorate our tree (twice as tall as any tree we've ever had and the local stores are all out of lights already!  oops!).

Then tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow!  CHRISTMAS EVE... my favorite!  Christmas Eve continues to have an aura of wonder and excitement for me.  Deeply feeling the humanness of my Lord's birth, singing Silent Night in a candle lit church with those I love most dearly, sharing gifts with loved ones, eating decadent foods and most of all, watching Hazel enjoy it all.  Ok, Heidi too, but she's really to young for it all. Still, she'll bob her body in rhythm to Silent Night and chew wrapping paper and have a wonderful time.

But Hazel, wow!  This morning (at 4:30 am... did I mention that yet?), she said to me:  "Hadel got tree for YOU!".  She had!  And as for presents... oh how she LOVES them!  Check out this montage from her Grandma Llama's birthday 2 weeks ago.  She knows just how to react after a man gives you a small gold box ;)

*notice the picture behind my dad's head.  Hazel wanted to decorate with balloons for Llama's birthday party and I didn't have any.  So, she drew lots and lots of colorful circles on paper and we hung them on the windows.  It's the first time she "drew" something specific.  I was SO surprised!

and Christmas Eve is just the tip of the iceberg!  Christmas morning with Jake's mom and stepdad, Christmas dinner with his brother, 3 of my cousins visit for a few laughter filled days... and then MY SISTER, CHRISTOPH and ANNIE have a 3-day layover as they fly from Germany to Alaska.  Sorry, but no present can compare to getting to spend some time with them.  Last Christmas we said goodbye not knowing how much time would pass before we'd be together.  So, don't look for me online... I'll be snuggling with my 1-year-old niece and taking one bajillion photos.

p.s.  if you're a local friend who also wants to see my sister... SORRY!  We are locking them up in the Compound and are not sharing any of our time with them.  For reals :)


maintaining the Christmas balance (sneak peek pics added)

*addendum* OK OK... the mothers have spoken!  I snapped a few pics of the girls dresses and have added them.  They're not great, but it's the middle of the day and the babies will soon awake and the toddlers were very impatient to jump all over the camera frame :)

One of my homemade gifts this year... a tea wreath!  Sized to fit inside your cabinet door, much classier than laying boxes of teas on the counter for your guests to peruse!
My easy-peasy Christmas pillows!  The large one is simply a premade felt bag that I slipped over my pillow!  The green ones are my everyday pillows that I tacked small red stockings onto.
Hazel's PURPLE sweater dress and matching headband/ ear warmer!  Really poor picture, many more when she wears it!
Heidi's red & black snowflake sweater dress with matching bonnet.  

When I made and organized my holiday TO DO list, I forgot to add blogging.  So, my apologies for not have some awesome holiday preparation posts.  There's a lot going on that I want to share, I just don't have the time to share!  In my fantasy world, I'll start my holiday preparations a month in advance, have wonderful tutorials to share, stellar photographs of it all and still be vegging with a cup of hot cocoa by 9pm every night.

The reality is that I've been up past 11pm every night and up again before 6am every morning.  Definitely not a schedule I can maintain, but I'm truly having a blast!

I LOVE Christmas dresses for my girls.  It's the one time when I really put thought and attention into their attire.  Last year a saleswoman scolded me when I asked where the Christmas dresses were.  It was the week before Christmas and they were all sold out!  It turned out great for me since I was able to piece Hazel's ensemble together from their non-Christmas clearance racks.  Last year was black velvet with deep pink accents.  LOVED IT!

This year, I had an elaborate plan built around Hazel's red & black checkered flannel shirt.  Huh?  Yup!  The shirt DOES have ruffles and I was gonna made a gorgeous black skirt and a coordinating red & black jumper for Heidi.  I was at Goodwill a few weeks ago (since it's in our MALL!) and saw an awesome red & black wool sweater.  Immediately I thought, "I bet I could use that to make Heidi's jumper".

Well, that idea has taken on a life of it's own.  I'm elbow deep in felting wool sweaters (I picked up 4 more at Goodwill this weekend) and making things out of this thick, warm, gorgeous fabric.  It's SO fun to work with!  You simply shrink your sweaters until they don't unravel when cut.  I feel a little like the Grinch when he takes his scissors, quickly cuts out a Santa suit shape, throws a few stitches in and badda BING... he has an outfit!

I've now made 2 dresses (which take about 30 minutes start-to-finish!  well, they would if I ever did one thing at a time and/or was kid free for 30 minutes), 5 headband/ear muffs, a really warm bonnet for Heidi, a set of cashmere mittens, countless roses to decorate it all, and I've barely DENTED my stock pile!  Oh, why oh why didn't I start this before this week?

Photos to come, I promise!  In the meantime, blare some Christmas music and remind yourself that your TO DO list isn't nearly as important as your sanity :)


finding a balance

Today my lovely husband popped home for a nooner lunch because he was driving past the house and he thought it'd be nicer to eat at home than in his office.  Unfortunately for him, he didn't know that I'm setting some firm boundaries with the kids I hang-out with (today I'm "chillin" with 3 extras).

One of my 2-year-olds just does not like food.  She's a very happy & bright girl, but she needs to eat.  Her parents recently met with a panel of experts and one of the new rules is that food is only available when she is in her chair and only during a meal time or official snack time.  It makes total sense to me and I've started incorporating it the other 6 days a week when she's not here.  I've been really lax about snacks and allow goldfish/ etc to be constantly available (ie scattered across the couch).  Also, if the kids can't stuff themselves with processed carbs (the easiest type of snacks), they'll actually FEEL HUNGRY and EAT THEIR DINNER!

As you may know, Hazel LOVES food.  Her favorite foods are hummus and pb/honey sandwiches.  She tries everything and likes almost all of it.  However, often by meal times, she isn't hungry enough to eat much of the good stuff.  I do offer fruit and veggie snacks, but not as often as I should.

Back to today, the other part of the new rules for this sweet pea is that she must be in her chair for 15-min snacks and 30-minute meals.  Suffice to say, there's a lot of screaming and crying.  She thinks I'm torturing her.  (Though I did see her sneak in a few snacks between cries!)  Her crying was so loud that it woke up a slumbering infant who then also cried for a 1/2 hour since I wouldn't stop everything else and hold her.

I'm setting boundaries... did I mention that?  When an infant cries, I offer a quick hug, a snack, a diaper change &/or a toy.  If none of those work and the crying continues, OFF TO BED!

It all feels much meaner then it's sounding.  However, there's a reason I mentioned that my sanity has been precarious lately (in a previous post).  I have a grad degree that pretty much can be summarized into empathy skills, active listening skills, and understanding the devastating effect indulging OR neglecting children can have.  Yet, there are days when if I were a fly on the wall in my own home... boy would I have some scolding and lecturing to do with myself (not with neglect though... hope you didn't wonder about that!).

So, yeah, dear hubby did not get the peaceful lunch he was hoping for.  In fact, he immediately began calculating how much extra work he'd need to pick-up so that this wouldn't happen to me every day (of course, that was one the most difficult 1/2 hours I've had).

I'm positive that things will soon improve as I hold my boundaries and the kids adjust.  However, this article that I read this morning really says it all.  The title is:  How much childcare do you DESERVE?  Wow, me deserve childcare?  Aren't I mother-of-the-year for choosing to spend 90% of my waking hours with my children?  Aren't I the most generous friend ever to welcome in 3 of my friends' sweet children?  Actually, I feel GUILTY (a chronic problem of mine) that my friends pay me for my time and that I don't give them evenings free to do their shopping/ housework/ pursue their own interests.

It's true.  All mothers DESERVE childcare.  If I forced myself to ask for/ accept just a few hours a week, perhaps I'd write that book I'm constantly dreaming about.  Perhaps I'd go on a walk all alone.  Perhaps I'd have energy to be a loving wife and not just the mother-of-his-kids...

FYI:  I typed this with a kitchen counter overflowing with dirty dishes, juice containers, soup pots, things screaming to be returned to the fridge & while 3 toddlers and 1 infant nap... and one infant climbs back and forth over my lap (I rarely sit on chairs anymore).


youngster proof Christmas tree

If you spend any time on Pinterest, you have seen this idea, but for those of you that haven't... prepare to be amazed.  Ok, maybe I'm overselling this, but amazed was my reaction.  I love finding simple ideas that are so OBVIOUS, yet I never would have thought of it without inspiration.  Here's a link to the original inspiration.

My homemade felt on felt Christmas tree.  Two of my favorite weekly visitors are testing it out for me... they approve!

Since most days I have 2 toddlers and 2 crawlers (holla holla Heidi just started cruising Friday evening!), I was not excited about the prospect of spending most of my days saving the tree from curious hands and pine needles from infants' digestive tracts.  Here is the answer to my dilemma!  I made my tree about 5 feet tall, gave it a Grinch-y twist and made a few ornaments.  SO EASY!  

Jake's Aunt Lou recently gave me a bin stuffed full of ribbons, rick rack & lace.  So I spent about a 1/2 hour cutting and hot gluing and whadda-bing-whadda-boom... A toddler proof tree just asking to be redecorated (note:  felt sticks to felt!).  So thanks Aunt Lou!  You saved me lots of time and money and made our tree look WAY cuter than the plain ornaments I would've come up with.  I plan to make a lot more ornaments in the future!

I do LOVE a real Christmas tree, but I'm gonna wait until the week of Christmas.  My sanity is precarious enough as it is :)


Careful what you wish for!

This holiday season has been full of PURE JOY!  The excitement and magic are tangible in my 2.5 year old.  For example, IF she's good (for most of the day... she is a toddler after all), Santa turns on Christmas lights that are in a tree outside her bedroom window.  Each time she sees them she yells "Merry Christmas".  We have no idea where she learned to say that, but it certainly makes this Scrooge feel merry.  The first time she saw it, she ran to her Santa nightlight and said "Thank you"!

On Monday, we decided to take the girls to meet SANTA!  SO exciting!  I'll share that picture another day.  Today, I want to share the video I made of our first rehearsal.  As you will see, I had to help her edit her wish list:

Ha Ha Ha!  So glad I caught that on tape!  Not to ruin the awesomeness of that video, but I should mention that she had just discovered a Christmas mouse that "poops" (not sure why I put quotations there, but I'm keepin 'em) candy.  The POOP (love that word) reservoir quickly emptied and Hazel had been asking all day for me to fill it.

For the record, she ended up asking Santa for BOOKS and PURPLE TOYS for Heidi.  I have a feeling that Santa is so gonna nail it this year!


Heidi Rose @ 8 months

photo by Whitney Lehman Killinger during our Thanksgiving photo shoot.  We had fun playing around with some Christmas card ideas.  Since the computer I upload my photos on to is still injured.... I'm using these adorable photos from Whit for her 8-month post.  Since, the 7-month photos are still ON my camera and not on the blog :(
Heidi-loo-who, how I love you...  Sweet Heidi hears many versions of that verse.  I can't help but sing it to her ALLDAYLONG, pausing only to nuzzle into her folds of fat neck!  Hazel truly thinks here name is "Heidiwho".

At 8 months, Heidi is often found on her hands and knees, rocking front and back, experimenting with drawing one knee forward, one hand forward, rock rock rock, face plant on the ground, CRY...  It's been WEEKS since she's mastered getting into the crawl position and though she certainly has gone forward a few times, she doesn't understand how it works.  It's a frustrating life for her!

She checks in at 18.1 pounds!  Wow!  That's a lot of sweetness.  She's wearing 6-9 month clothing and growing steadily.

Her favorite foods are any fruits, followed up by veggies (as long as they're super purred... so she pretty much refuses to eat my homemade foods), and the newest addition, HAM!  However, she really doesn't like cereal, but I keep trying and mixing it with fruit so that she gets some iron.  I'm using a lot of store bought baby food, something I only used when I traveled with Hazel.  I really really hope that she doesn't develop some bad food habits, like only eating processed foods.

The other trademark move of 8-months is her CLAW!  I trim her nails almost daily because she is a grabber/scratcher/kneader.  Seriously, some days my neck looks like I lost a fight with a cat.  Given the chance, she grabs my lip, neck or chest and rapid-fire-clasps.  Suffice to say, I've learned to feed her while pinning one of her hands under my arm and holding the other hand.

Another bad habit that she's started... well with her dad's encouragement (ahem):  About an hour after bedtime (8:30pm-ish), she awakes and cries until we (he) retrieves her and allows her to snuggle on his chest until his bedtime (midnight-ish).  Her snuggles are life's greatest joy and her babyness is so fleeting.  However, some nights... I curse at glare at them both.  Take right now, it's 9:40pm and Heidi just started screaming and now... she is on my lap, sucking her two fingers, looking as innocent as...uhhh...is there a phrase to finish that sentence?  YOU GET MY POINT!  So instead of some much needed ALONE time tonight, I will be snuggling this sweet smelling ball of goo.  Ok, I no longer feel sorry for myself.  Wait, if I zerbert her neck, she'll wake up enough to giggle.  Ahhh... that's the stuff...  Ok, back to sleep Heidi.  I mean it!  I'm your mama!  You should listen to me!  I'll give you the stink eye... WHY IS MY STINK EYE SO INEFFECTIVE?

Wow, guess what kind of day I had at home with 3 two-year-olds and 2 eight-month-olds?  Time to back away from the computer... very slowly...

Another sneak peek:
there's just gotta be a clever caption for this one!

How babies are made...

This brought a smile to my face.  Happy Friday to all!

News from Don Rob on Vimeo.