Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Sharing Husband

My last post, at the beginning of the month, was about my wonderful husband.  He's still wonderful, but now he has shared his cold with me.  He was sick over Christmas without the opportunity to rest.  We went to Grandma Kris' house for Christmas day, which provided extra entertainment for Joel.  This helped me to let Jim rest all day yesterday and I started with the cold last night.  Fortunately, both kids seem to be healthy and resilient.  Jim is recovering and I'm hoping to fight it fast than he did.  I'm also hoping the kids can continue to be germ free.  They are too busy playing and exploring all their Christmas presents to even really care or notice that both Mommy and Daddy are sick. I hope everyone else had a healthy Christmas!

As a side note, I'm hoping to be able to upload pictures again sometime... 

Friday, December 7, 2012

My Amazing Husband

Well, I still haven't taken the time to figure out a solution for uploading more pictures, but pictures aren't necessary (or really desired) for this post.

I developed mastitis (an infection that you can get while breastfeeding) on Wednesday.  I've had it several times before and usually heed the early warning signs, which keeps it from lasting very long.  Unfortunately, that has not been the case this time around.

Leading into this week, our family knew that this was a very busy week for Jim.  He is in the midst (even as I type) of writing a final paper for each of his two courses this semester.  Now these aren't just 5-6 page papers, these are 25-30 page research papers.  Did I mention he is writing 2 of them? Since I do lots of math with Joel these days (that's how he likes to pass time) 30 two times is 60, yes 60 pages of researched knowledge my husband is in the midst of writing!  This is all due next weekend.  Oh, Jim is also directing our church's Christmas Music Festival this weekend which has rehearsals all morning on Saturday and 2 performances on Sunday (at 2:00 and 4:00 at TKW for any locals).  Needless to say, this week and next week are both easily in the top 5 busiest weeks all year for Jim.  They might even be 1 and 2.

So back to this past Wednesday, I thought I had a bruise, but should have known better that it was mastitis just starting.  ugh!  The kids and I decorated the Christmas tree and by lunch I was adding another sweater on top of my sweater.  The temp outside had dropped, but I shouldn't have been that cold.  Hello, fever, you were not invited into this week!  Fast forward to 8:30pm, I was shaking I was so cold (but my skin was hot), so I went to bed with so many layers and blankets on that it is just not even close to normal.  I never go to bed that early either!!!

I spent all day in bed on Thursday!  Here comes the amazing husband part... Jim stayed home to take care of the kids!  Jim loves being with our kids, but this week he doesn't have the time to take a whole day away from work or school, let alone both! Then Friday comes and I'm still not better.  Thankfully our great friend, Danielle, took both of our kiddos grocery shopping with her this morning (she gets an award for doing that willingly!!) so Jim was able to do some work.

Clearly, since I'm sitting up long enough to write this blog, I'm improving.  I'm still not 100% healed.  I need to keep up my regiment of drinking fluids and resting, but I feel like I'm on the mend.

I'm so grateful for all of our family and friends (many of whom we consider family) for their love, prayers, and support for us.  Even though it's no fun to be sick, it is comforting to know my kids are still in great hands.

I'm off to bed now...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Blogger dilemma

Well, apparently I like to post pictures to my blog and quite a few of them.  I've reached my 1GB limit of storage for pictures on my blog.  I'm working to figure out how to take care of this issue.  I can keep blogging, just can't add more pictures until I resolve this issue.  Who wants to read my blog without pictures though?  The only reason to read what I write is because it narrates the pictures.

Have a lovely day and hopefully I'll get this resolved and back to uploading many pictures for your viewing pleasure.  If you are a blogger and have advice for dealing with this issue, I'm open to suggestions.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fall Review

I'm going to attempt to do a quick catch up on everything since Joel's birthday at the end of July to present time.  I'll leave out some details (which is really hard for me), but just hit the highlights.  The delays started when my dryer stopped drying...I saved lots of $ by fixing that myself!  Then, my computer quit working and it was a process to determine what was wrong and get it fixed.

On September 27th, my world was rocked in a very deep and difficult way.  My very dear friend, Bryant, died suddenly and unexpectedly at his home while doing his morning Bible reading.  It would take pages for me to describe the depth of my relationship with Bryant, but a glimpse is that he was my Sunday school teacher in high school, our families spent free time, weekends, birthdays, holidays, etc together, he took me to Hawaii as a hs graduation gift, and we supported each other in life with God by our side.  Please continue to pray for Bryant's wife, Ann, as she adjusts to life without him as her caregiver.  I hold his daughters Lauren and Michelle close to my heart always and pray that God continues to carry them as they are Christ's hands and feet in this world.

Then at the end of October, my Uncle Rex also died unexpectedly while visiting his newest grandson.  Consequently, the kids and I have had several unplanned whirlwind trips this fall.  First to New Orleans and then to Colorado.  We rejoice that both of these men are with Jesus, even while we miss them being here with us.

Among the grief and chaos that comes with it, college football season is in full swing.  This is a big deal in our family as Jim and I teach our kids to support our teams (Alabama and Ohio State with a subtle side of LSU).  The kids alternate between their Ohio State and Alabama jerseys/cheerleader outfits on Saturdays all fall.

Roll Tide!

Joel's starting to get the hang of it.  He now screams at the tv to cheer on his team.  Kirstin is still working on learning the fight songs. 

Joel's biggest news of the fall is that he started preschool.  He goes to the preschool at our church on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.  His class has 5 boys (that's the whole class)!  Joel loves school.  Kirstin misses her brother while he's gone, even though she naps the whole time.  She wakes up asking, "Bubba?"  

Here's some of the pictures from the first day of preschool.
Such a big boy.  Can you tell that he picked his own outfit, too?

He's so silly and she loves every bit of him and the silliness.

I love my kids!

He was ready to walk to school (which he won't do until Kindergarten).  This picture seem so sentimental or metaphorical.

The biggest news for Kirstin is that she is very mobile.  She walks, runs, climbs, and get's "stuck".  Her vocabulary grows faster than I can keep track.  

Any circle with a hole is immediately tried on as a bracelet.  Here she is wearing one of her stacking rings and likely saying, "brace".  

I'll share pumpkin and Halloween fun in it's own post. 
Thanks for being part of our family through this fall.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Joel's 4th Birthday Party (3 of 3)

We had a Toy Story themed birthday party for Joel.  We started the party by playing with all the various Toy Story toys that we have at our house.  This activity was greatly enhanced as some of the first guests arrived bringing more of these toys (more on this coming).  Joel, along with his friends (and the parents) enjoyed checking out the features of various Buzz Lightyear and Woody figures, along with Mr and Mrs Potato Head, Etch-a-sketch, talking phone, etc.

Joel playing with big Buzz.

At the last minute, we invited 2 of the boys from Jim's youth choir to attend the party.  These guys love Joel and happen to have been fond of Toy Story when they were younger.  We thought Joel would like them coming to his party, especially since several of his originally invited friends were unable to attend.  This was the best idea ever!  I'm pretty sure all future parties will involve youth attendees!  They were amazing!  They did a great job of playing with the little kids, facilitating the games (after I provided the initial directions), and having fun themselves.  They even brought their own Toy Story toys that they had outgrown to give to Joel.  Again, what a blessing these boys (and the rest of their family) are to our family.

The Claw Game:  The Claw is one of Joel's favorite scenes from the movies.  So, we created our own version with Joel's stuffed animals and a claw.

Woody's Roundup: For this game, I hid 4 Woody action figures in one room of the house.  The kids had to then find them or Roundup Woody. 

Action Figure Race: This game didn't actually get played, but Joel designed (and decorated) the game and sign so I wanted to share it.  He was going to have Buzz race on his racecar against Woody on RC.  He plays this on his own, even if it didn't happen during the party. 

To Infinity and Beyond led us outside for the pinata experience. 

Special thanks to David and Daniel for holding the pinata.

Then it was time for dinner.

We had homemade Cheese pizza and BBQ Chicken pizza.

After dinner it was time for cake and ice cream.

Joel was super excited about his superman ice cream.  As ice cream fans, we are less than excited about his ice cream choice.  Oh well, he also likes good ice cream. 

Joel's piece of cake was complete with Buzz on top! 

The kids received an age appropriate Toy Story snack container or water bottle as a party favor.

Joel had so much fun at his birthday party.  He loves being with his friends.  He's already looking forward to next year.

Thank you for your patience as I come back to blogging after an unexpected time away.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Joel's Party Preparations (2 of 3)

This continues to be much delayed because I, unfortunately, still have computer issues.

However, we had so much fun preparing for Joel's birthday party that I still want to share those details.  I mentioned in my last post that Joel often has specific plans for what he wants for his parties (and much of his life).  This year, we all knew it would be a Toy Story themed party.  I try to limit Joel's "screen time", but Toy Story (1, 2, and 3) happen to be some of the very few movies that he has seen.  Due to Joel's incredible memory I believe he has the entire 3 part series memorized.  Anyway, Joel loves Buzz!  There was a while where he would use his arms to be his "wings".

Joel also decided back in February that he wanted a pinata at his birthday party.  This was special thanks to Aunt MeMe, who made a pinata for my nephew's 10th birthday party.  Joel was instantly enthralled by the concept when he saw the pictures from Trevor's birthday.  Again, Joel's incredible memory did not forget that a pinata was to be part of the plan.

Joel decided that he wanted the pinata to look like the spaceship that stands outside of Pizza Planet in Toy Story 1.  So, I did my research to figure out what that spaceship looked like.  Here's an image to remind you.

Now it was Momma's turn to be creative and take Joel's plan and make it a reality.  Before everyone things I'm totally crazy, I see this as my gift to him.  

I started by blowing up a balloon and covering it with paper mache.  I remembered paper mache from when I was kid.  I don't know what we made, but I remember it was messy fun.

Here's the first layer drying.  Joel helped by dipping all of the newspaper into the flour and water mixture.  We didn't get any pictures of this because nobody was home with clean hands to touch the camera (except Kirstin who was napping).  Feel free to use your imagination, along with all the extra newspaper you see stuck to the opened brown paper bag in the picture.  It was probably a good thing Daddy wasn't home because he can't handle that kind of mess. :-)

Layer 2 is almost dry.  

Once the paper mache was totally dry (after about 2 days), I popped the balloon.  I held my breath as I popped the balloon and hoped the whole thing didn't crumble.  It didn't (obviously from the picture).

I used a hole puncher to make holes for the string to go through.  In hindsight, these holes should have been at least another inch lower.

With the string securely attached, I thought I'd try to make a fashion statement with my new paper mache purse.  Don't worry, I decided it wasn't very functional (or cute).
Now that I had the body of the spaceship, I needed to work on the details (the part that makes it actually look like a spaceship).

Here the "legs" are being painted red.  I used a folder that a solicitor had dropped off at our door...reduce, reuse, recycle...or as I like to think about Free craft supplies!

The birthday boy painting his spaceship white.

I love including him in these projects.  I hope that it helps him to continue with his creativity as he gets older.

Once all the paint dried, it was assembly time.

Joel and I gluing on the legs.  (Jim was home for this less messy part...thanks for taking the pictures!!)
We had to hold the legs on while they dried.  Joel was counting as he held it on.  Also, I found this hanger to work perfect for holding the pinata.  I was also able to easily move it hang on the shower curtain rod, out of reach of the kids, when we weren't working on it.

Joel stuffing the pinata with treats: bouncy balls, small plastic toys, Toy Story fruit snacks, smarties.


I attached the top of the was about this point that Jim could also see the vision of the pinata.  

I decided to add "JOEL" to both sides of the pinata.  I'm glad I did.
There are about 25 more pictures of this pinata if you didn't get enough feel free to request them to be emailed to you.  Part of that is because Joel loves to use my camera.

Joel took a picture of me creating the signs for the party.  You'll see those in the next post about the party.
For those of you that have been to one of Joel's past birthday parties or seen pictures, you know that he usually comes up with a plan (challenge) for me to make him a cake.  Birthday cake is important to Joel.  I'm not sure why because Jim always has pie (usually Key Lime Pie) and I always have ice cream cake.  However, Joel loves birthday cake.  We have even had cakes for other people's birthdays when they weren't with us.
Here are some of Joel's previous cake ideas that I created for him.
Joel's train cake when he turned 2
Joel's digger and dump truck cakes when he turned 3.
This year, Joel decided that he wanted 3 circle cakes stacked on top of each other with Buzz (with his wings open) on the top.  I'm not sure where my 4-year-old decided that he needed a 3 tier cake for his birthday, but I agreed to the challenge.  Honestly, I was more concerned about the 3 circles on top of each other than I was any of the previous cakes.  

So here it is:
Each cake is a basic homemade yellow cake with a mixed berry filling.  (I think Kirstin's strawberry filling was better, but mixed berries were on sale, so that's what Jim bought... worth trying.)  I also made homemade butter cream frosting for the first time.  It was easier to work with than my homemade cream cheese frosting, but didn't taste as good.  After looking all over the country (literally) for a Buzz with wings open to go on top of the cake, I found one at the Target down the road from our house.  The "4" candle was bought at the Wilton tent sale (along with other fun things)!

Happy 4th Birthday Joel!!!  

Party pictures are coming up and hopefully I'll have my computer back soon.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Joel's 4th Birthday: Part 1 (of 3) celebrations

My computer is out of commission, but we're working on getting it fixed.  So, I apologize for the lack of blog updates.  I've also been busy with repairing our dryer, which is all fixed! :-)

On to more important things... Joel turned 4 at the end of July.  We had tons of fun celebrating his birthday for a couple of weeks.  He is old enough that he fully understands that birthdays mean lots of celebrations and fun.  This includes special treats, dinners, presents, a party, and cake.  Joel often has a specific plan in mind for the details of all of these celebrations.

The week before his birthday, we tried out a new to us train themed restaurant.  This one is a little further away from our house than the one we have been to so many times they recognize us.  So, we went to ChooChoo Johnny's (we had a LivingSocial certificate)!

Jim is holding Kirstin on top of the train, even though that lovely white piece of paper on the wall next to the train says only one child at a time.

Kirstin and Jim checking out the model train display (sorry for the bad reflection from the window).

Kirstin drinking MY milkshake!

Watching the train the delivered his Superman Ice cream with a candle in it.  

Choo Choo Johnny's is more spacious, quieter, and less overstimulating than All Aboard Diner.  The food is better at AAD, not that you really go for the food.

Grandma Kris came down to celebrate with Joel the weekend before his birthday, too.  We spent Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Park Zoo.  It's a free zoo in downtown Chicago.  (Parking was NOT free)!  Joel and I have been wanting to check out this zoo, so this was a great time.  

I think Flamingos are cool creatures.

Lincoln Park Zoo has a Farm in the Zoo.  This was particular interesting to Joel because it is featured in one of his "John Deere for Kids" videos that he has checked out from the library.

We watched a cow milking demonstration.  As a breastfeeding mom, I felt like I could relate to those cows and am grateful that my baby is always with me rather than a big machine. 

Joel and Jim on the big John Deere tractor!

Our family! Thanks, Grandma Kris for taking the picture.

A one horned gazelle (he lost it in an incident at a previous institution) and a giraffe.

Hello, Giraffe!  We see your black tongue.  One of Joel's books has a giraffe with a red tongue and I tried to tell Joel that they really have black tongues.  So, we waited to observe (and get a picture) of the a real giraffe's black tongue.  Every moment is a teaching moment around here. :-)

Hello Polar Bear.  Thank you for diving into the water and swimming right up to us.  We enjoyed getting to observe you during your afternoon swim.

Up close with the Polar Bear.  

On Joel's actual birthday we went to dinner at his favorite restaurant, All Aboard Diner, where we have gone  to celebrate his 2nd, 3rd, and now 4th birthdays... as well as the birth of his baby sister and many other random things that needed to be celebrated.

This time Kirstin was allowed to ride the train with Joel.  They both loved it!

Joel was thrilled to enjoy his birthday ice cream!  What an adorable four-year-old!

Stay tuned for the week of all the preparations for Joel's party and the party.