Thursday, February 4, 2016

#tbt

August 2014



I have waaaay too many pictures sitting on my computer and taking up space so I'm going to try to sit down for a bit of time each Thursday to move them to an external hard drive and share some throwbacks here.

#tbt to August 2014. These were taken at Papa and Busha's house on a sunny Sunday afternoon. After church we had gone out for lunch at Paradise Bar and Grill where the kids were given giant icees as dessert.  I had forgotten all about those icees until seeing these pictures.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

An Early Spring






Wild Kratts is ruining my children's ability to mindlessly celebrate the ridiculous holiday known as Groundhog's Day.

"They aren't really coming up to check the weather, Mom." The 7-year old said after I dramatically tried to mimic a groundhog during dinner yesterday.

"The Easter Bunny?" Collin asked...clearly I was never destined to be a theater major, but c'mon! It's February 2nd! I hold my hands behind my head and stick my front teeth over my bottom lip while frantically scrunching my nose....we all know it's a groundhog, amirite?

Whatever.

Anyway, you know the proper way to celebrate Groundhog's day, right?  If not, let me tell you: brownies and milano cookies.

Okay, okay, along with some frosting, butterscotch chips, pine nuts, and almonds but mostly, BROWNIES and milano cookies. Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownies, preferably. If you let the kids make their own groundhogs it's probable they will end up looking a bit deranged but don't worry, THE BROWNIES WILL STILL TASTE GOOD!


In case you missed it in Keaton's groundhog picture (he strategically placed himself to capture the tv in the background) THIS is what was on freeze frame for hours on end at our house yesterday. Apparently, even though they know the real reason groundhogs pop out of their holes, they were still disappointed in my lack of Groundhog Day decorations.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Tea Time with Mom


 



If you've had a chance to follow along over at The Sunlit Path then you already know our big news for the year, we've decided to take a shot a homeschooling the boys. I know everyone's big questions are why? and how? and I hope to write more about that in the coming weeks/months but suffice it to say there is no grand reason WHY, nothing was wrong with the school they were attending, in fact, we loved their school, and the teachers, and their friends, but ultimately we felt like we were being called to do this. HOW will we accomplish it?  Well, honestly, we don't know other than to take it day-by-day.

At the encouragement of some other homeschooling Mama's I started a Tea & Poetry time with the boys this month. For Christmas Santa brought Stella the book A Child's Garden of Verses, poems by Robert Louis Stevenson illustrated by Tasha Tudor.  I think I'm actually doing this as much for me as I am for them, maybe more so.  First off, I looooove Tasha Tudor so this particular book is right up my alley, plus I got a new tea pot for my birthday and I love to hear her sing, but mostly, I've always struggled with poetry so starting from scratch, one poem at a time, has given me a chance to appreciate the beauty in it.

The boys love Tea & Poetry time. And by love I mean the other day when Nolan was helping me get the glasses ready and just as the tea pot was about to whistle I heard the older two, who were busy playing cars, say "We're having tea time, I don't like tea." And his big brother answered, "I don't either, you just have to gulp it down."

Ha!

They might not like tea but they do like cookies so they still jumped right up at that table when I called.  And you know what, when I asked them to tell me a few things about the poem we were reading that week, Winter-Time, they could tell me details that I honestly didn't think they'd remember AND they could tell me details that Robert Louis Stevenson didn't even tell me, like that it was about a boy who "poops in the toilet."

I don't know if this is as big of a thing with girls, but why to boys always have to bring it back to poop?

On that note, I don't quite know how to wrap this up so here, here is a picture of Stella.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Dear Stella: 2 Months

Dear Stella,

You recently turned two months old.  This was a big month for you in terms of celebrations and holidays and while all of it was fun it made the month go by very, very quickly. Too quickly if you ask me but I will probably say this about every month.


On December 13th we celebrated your baptism.  It was a dreary day and we had to sprint from the car into church so not to get soaking wet in the rain but it still remains one of the most beautiful days of this month together.  We picked your baptism date simply because it was the only date in December that worked for us and your Godparents but it ended up being a perfect fit for many reasons. First of all, December 13th is the feast day of St. Lucia, a saint that is particularly close to my heart due to our Swedish heritage and this year December 13th was also Guadete Sunday, Joy Sunday, which is particularly fitting considering your middle name means "Bringer of Joy." You did wonderful during the service and afterwards we headed out to lunch to celebrate you.  Of course you slept through the majority of the celebration but as soon as you did start to stir there were many people waiting to hold and love on you.

 

Two weeks after your baptism was Christmas. If there is one thing you will eventually learn about the two weeks leading up to Christmas it is this: they feel like two days.  At least for us adults, that is. For you and your brothers it will probably feel like two years as you wait in anticipation.  Our Christmas celebrations this year were perfect: a nice balance between spending time with family and spending some much needed down time at home. You slept through most of these celebrations as well and spent much of the time being held by extended family members, waking every now and then to come back to Mama to be fed. Your gift theme this year was dolls: Santa brought you a small little dolly that is made out of the outfit you came home from the hospital in, it will be perfect when you start grasping toys. Busha and Mimi also bought you little dolls, a Wee Baby Stella and a plush My First Doll. I'm going to be honest, as a lover of dolls when I was a little girl it makes my heart full to see this house filling up with dolls of your own.




Before I tell you about the most exciting thing that happened this month let's talk about the hardest thing.  Reflux.  Oh Baby Girl, if I could save you from the dreaded reflux I would. I tried my hardest to pretend that's not what was going on and then I tried to change my own diet before succumbing to putting you on medicine. In the evenings leading up to Christmas your Dad and I would put the big boys to bed I would make a cup of tea and then I'd go wrap a couple of gifts while your Dad bounced you and you screamed through the whole thing.  You may ask why I mention the cup of tea, well I needed something to calm me because I can't stand hearing you cry, but the Christmas presents weren't going to wrap themselves.  I usually did two or three a night and then I cuddled you until you finally cried yourself to sleep.  One night though you fell asleep in your Dad's arms; we were both amazed and were staring at you in wonder when you urped up and then screamed bloody murder.  It was at that moment that I knew we were dealing with reflux.  I called your doctor the next day and she immediately sent the prescription to the pharmacy.  In all honesty, she was just waiting for that call because she had called us a couple of times that week asking about you.  Since we started you on medicine things have definitely been better. Your fussy time is still generally in the evening but at least you aren't screaming for hours on end anymore.





Okay! So! The most exciting thing that happened this month! You smiled for the first time!  It's only been a few times, nothing real regular yet, but your Dad and I like to argue over who you smiled at first (it was me, by the way, just don't ask your Dad!) This makes me so excited for the month to come; I keep telling everyone that if you are going to grow older and get bigger anyway at least we have some fun things to look forward to.

 

At two months you weighed in at 11 pounds 7 ounces (52%) and were 23.25 inches long (83%). You have blue eyes and your hair is still dark on top but caught in different lights appears to have a tint of strawberry blonde. You are finally starting to like baths and still love to be held and snuggled. You really dislike being in the car, which is unfortunate since we had to drive down to Illinois for Christmas.  Once you wake up you scream for a good 30 to 40 minutes before falling back to sleep. It has made car travel difficult. While I really don't want you to get any bigger, I can't wait to see how you change in this next month.

 



I love you Baby Girl,
Mama

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Three Kings Day Celebration

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar.
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.


O star of wonder, star of night,
Star of royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.






Collin picked up the little yellow notebook that sits on the counter by the oven and has our weekly menu written on it and asked, "Are you sure you want snowman pasta for your birthday dinner?"

Yeah, I hadn't really planned that well.

I mean, I have nothing against snowman pasta it's just....well....your birthday only comes around once a year. So at the last minute we ditched the snowman pasta and headed to Buffalo Wild Wings. And it was delicious.

But the change in plans pushed back all of our night activities. Our night activities that included making cupcakes and celebrating Epiphany.  

"You know, making cupcakes at 9 am rather than 9 pm probably would have been a better idea." He said to me. I agreed, "Yes, that would have been ideal." But here we were, it was nearly 9 pm and I had promised Three Kings cupcakes and dadgumit, we were going to make Three Kings cupcakes. 

So the kids climbed up on the table (literally) and we started baking.  And while those cupcakes cooled we headed outside to do our house blessing and then we all gathered around the table at half past 9 pm and ate those cupcakes.  And guess what??  The world did not end.  

Also, Collin found the hidden almond in his cupcake - which makes him the King for the day - so I think he was alright with the nighttime baking after all.  Now the big question is, will he choose movie night or game night?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Christmas 2015


It feels somewhat appropriate that I'm finally finding time to sit down and post about Christmas on this here 12th day of Christmas. According to tradition I guess we are supposed to be taking the tree and wreaths down tonight and having a bonfire.  That actually sounds like a pretty good idea....maybe next year.  We do intend to take the decorations down this week but first we have to tackle the dining room table Christmas Pile.  What's the Christmas Pile?  Well, it's a tad bit of everything, I guess. Our dining room table is notoriously our Dump Zone and while we had been doing a pretty good job of keeping it clean in the days leading up to Christmas all of that changed once Christmas was actually here.  Most of it's gifts from our various celebrations that made their way out of the car and into the house, just not very far into the house. I want to put stuff away but every time I go to pick something up and find a home for it I find myself wanting to clean that home first.  Which is why we have been knee deep in cleaning our pantry the last few days. In addition to the pantry I have also started cleaning our bedroom, the bathrooms, and the basement. They are all in various stages of clean and I need to stop jumping from one task to another and just finish something already!  

Anyway! Christmas!  It was really great.  Every year it goes by fast and this year was no exception. I told myself I would not get sucked into the Christmas Stress but in the last few days I succumbed.  I had to finally take some things off the to-do list because there just wasn't enough time to get it all done, which is why my Christmas cards just went into the mail this week.  ::sigh::  But you know what?  Christmas was still wonderful even if everything didn't get gone.

We spent Christmas Eve with Collin's family and finally, finally! got to meet our new baby niece who is now 9 months old.  She was as cute and wonderful as expected and I can't wait to get my hands on her giggly little self again.  Unlike my children she is not afraid to go to strangers and I am so glad for that!

Christmas Day was spent at home with just our little family.  The boys were so excited to see that Santa brought them a soccer net, BB gun, Plasma car, and doll (in that order) on Christmas morning and spent the day playing with airplane gliders that were in their stockings and watching The Christmas Story on repeat.  We made a french toast bake for breakfast (it was delicious! we have a new tradition!) and Collin and I thought ahead this year and ordered our Chinese food on Christmas Eve before we headed to his parents.  Tell me we aren't the only ones who crave Chinese after watching The Christmas Story?! We rewound the movie a few times to watch our favorite part where the Bumpuses dogs crash through the house and eat the turkey...here, go watch it...

  

"Sons of B*tches, Bumpuses!" I can not watch this without cracking up!

Before we knew it the sun had set and it was time to head to bed, the day went too fast.

On Saturday after Christmas we headed down to Illinois for the extended Bender Family Christmas at my aunt and uncles and then down to my parents' house for our family Christmas with my brother and sister-in-law and niece and nephew.  The kids stayed up way too late but it didn't even matter we were having such a good time.  Every child was thrilled with their gifts and it was really fun to see all of their faces light up.  We had intended to stay down there until Monday but on Sunday evening we realized the Winter Storm that was rolling in was going to make travel on Monday difficult and dangerous so late Sunday we packed  up and hit the road around 9 pm and pulled in here at home in the wee hours of the morning.  

And just like that our Christmas celebrations were over.

Although our decorations are still up and I had really good intentions of really celebrating these 12 days of Christmas all things Christmas have kind of fizzled over the last week and it just dawned on me on Sunday that the Christmas carols are over for the year.... and that realization made me sad. 

But here's to 2016! A new year! New adventures! I think I'm ready to dive in but first we have the Epiphany to celebrate tomorrow and then, THEN we'll dive in.  

Hope you all had a blessed Christmas and on this last day of the season, from our family to yours, Merry Christmas! 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Dear Stella: 1 Month

Dear Stella,

Let’s just discuss the elephant in the room right now, shall we?  You are now six weeks old….okay, fine you are now a tad bit over six weeks old and I am just now sitting down to write this letter.  Your first month was very busy; not from other activities that took us away from home but just from normal, everyday activities that required us to stay on top of a rigid schedule - your brothers’ various pickups and drop-offs at school, homework, etc. Sadly, you spent a great amount of time during your first month in the car.

While I wish we could have spent your first few weeks spending more quiet time at home, we still managed to sneak in some precious one-on-one time together, which usually happened during and following your feedings.  I forgot how nursing a newborn requires a great deal of focus and concentration and I learned early on that you did the best when we were in your nursery in the rocking chair.  While this meant having to get out of bed during your nighttime feedings it also meant getting to escape the chaos of your three brothers during the day – this is probably a great first life lesson: you win some, you lose some.  But mommy wasn’t the only one that liked to retreat to your room every now and then.  I can’t tell you how many times I saw your dad willingly pick you up when you were crying and quietly head back there. He would be back there for so long that I always assumed he had fallen asleep himself; but no, he just enjoyed rocking you in the quiet and couldn’t bear to put you down even when you were sound asleep.

  

From the moment you were born our entire family instantly fell in love with you. Over Thanksgiving Mimi stayed at our house for a week and she was quickly smitten with you and if you know your Mimi then you know this is kind of a big deal – she has self professed that she is not normally a “baby person.” But when you cried she ran because she just couldn’t bear to see you upset.  Busha also loves you to pieces. At Thanksgiving she was holding you but I think was feeling a bit guilty that no one else was getting to snuggle you so she handed you off, but when you were sound asleep and someone was about to set you back in your bouncer she immediately said: Don’t set her down! If everyone was done, then she would gladly take you back.  Besides your grandparents the hearts I think you captured the most were those of your big brothers.  Every. Single. One.  Of. Them.  They are so in love with their Baby Stella; their precious little sister.  Keaton writes about you in his journal at school, Hutton is constantly asking to hold you, and Nolan makes sure that every stranger who asks knows that your name is not just Stella but Stella Beatrice. Yes, Little Girl, you have three doting big brothers and you have rounded out our family just perfectly.

  

At one month old you weighed in at 9 pounds 6 ounces (46%) and were 21.25 inches long (47%) and were wearing newborn sized clothes. If I could keep you this small forever, I would but sadly you are growing quickly. You have been a very good eater and put on two whole pounds since birth!  Although you are a champion spitter and projectile after most feedings your pediatrician is not too worried since you have been gaining weight so nicely. You spent the first few weeks sleeping great for us, waking me up only two times during the night.  Unfortunately at about the 2 or 3 week mark you started being pretty fussy in the evenings after your 8 pm feeding and have been screaming for a few hours every night.  I remember one of your brothers being like this too and I know you will outgrow it but your dad and I have had to do some tag teaming as both of us came down with a cold from lack of sleep. 

 

Miss Stella, you love to be snuggled and you hate baths. You have blue eyes and chubby cheeks and your hair is dark in some places and light in others. You do pretty well in the car and when you cry your brothers sing your name to you until you quiet down.  You are known around here as Baby Stella, Stella Bea, Stella Bella, and Stella Bell and you are loved so, so much.  Thank you, Little One, for joining us – I don’t know what we did without you.


I love you to pieces,
Mama