Friday, December 31, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We are so glad that in a world of uncertainty and hopelessness, God is our rock and a fortress and takes care of us. We are so thankful for our wonderful family and friends too! May you find your hope in Him!

Family Fun

In June we went to Salt Lake City for a mini-vacation and took the kids to the zoo.

Ali had ballet and soccer in the spring and she loved both!

The kids enjoyed swimming in their little swimming pool nearly every day of the summer.

One of our traditions is letting our kids choose a theme for their birthday--even if it's a simple, family event. This year Ali had an Angelina Ballerina party, Justus had a Semi-Truck cake and Jeremiah had a Snake Birthday.

Hard Things

In May, my Grandma B. passed away at 69. She was my last living grandparent and it's just hard to believe she's gone.
We all caught the stomach flu in early March and the nausea didn't end for me until late-May. I get bad morning sickness, which makes life very challenging.
We moved. This is the 6th home we've had in 7 years of marriage!
Our county had lots of flooding this spring when the snow melted rapidly and flooded the local river. Our community pulled together to sandbag and help one another.

Most of September and October we were in a "quarantine" of sorts as chicken pox made its' way through all of the kids. We caught a stomach flu before and after the baby's birth.

New Baby

Katrielle Hope

"God is my crown and my hope"

We had always wanted to have 4 children and Katrielle Hope was the most wonderful surprise of 2010! She made her entrance into the world on October 28th and was 7#, 7oz. and 20 inches long. I had a complete placenta previa with the pregnancy and was told I would have a C-section and had some restrictions. However, the placenta moved out of the way at the end of the pregnancy and I didn't have to have one!

Katri loves to be held and snuggled and gets lots and lots of attention from adoring big siblings! Her sister summed it up for all of us when she said, "I just can't stop loving her!"

School and Kids

We're official homeschoolers now that Alathia is in Kindergarten. Going to AWANA (a kids' club at church), coloring pictures, cleaning the house, playing with friends, swimming lessons, and reading easy books are her favorite things to do. The boys do some activities and crafts with her, but they would rather play with their trucks than learn letters right now! Jeremiah, who is 4, loves snakes, sharks, dinosaurs, and bugs and is always asking to read books about them. Two-year-old Justus loves to help hold the flag for The Pledge and he always ends with a huge smile and points to himself as he says, "with liberty and JUSTICE for all!" The boys love to play with monster trucks, sword fight, wrestle and jump off of things!

Kid Funnies

My kids are always asking me what happened to the dinosaurs.

Jer came up with this theory, "I think they are all in Minnesota."

One of my mom's students said, "Mrs. B., I accidentally stepped on a worm on the sidewalk. And I felt sorry for him so I stomped on him and sent him home to Jesus so he wouldn't have to suffer."

While getting ready to swim Justus exclaimed, "Naked!
Naked!" Then when I put his trunks on he shrugged his
shoulders and said, "Where'd naked go?"

Justus: "Snakes grow on trees. Does water grow on trees too?"

Justus: When I get big I'm gonna go to Goof Group (Youth Group).

Jer: Does chicken come from elk or deer?

When asked why he had hit his brother hard in the forehead with his wooden slingshot, Justus said, "He's Goliath!"

When learning and practicing a new Bible verse from Proverbs Ali said, "Apply the brakes" instead of "Apply my heart to instruction...."

Ali: I'm feeling like yelling all day and being sassy all day long."

On naming their little sis: Jer liked: Spider, Snake, or Cute and Justus liked Crocodile and Carrot. When we told Justus he would be getting a little sister, he said, "No! Not sister...a dinosaur!"

Ali sighed and said: It's so hard to have a brother...a whiny, snotty brother.

Thanks to Grammy, my kids think "rootbeer" ends in float. I was trying to explain that rootbeer is just a type of pop. Ali said, "Oh! Okay! Rootbeer is pop just like Jesus is God!"

Ali glanced at my plate as we sat down to eat lunch and
exclaimed, "My, my, my! How much can a pregnant woman

Jeremiah scarfed down his treat and then turned to his sister and begged her for half of her treat. She refused, so he said, "Ali, God wants us to share."

Ali informed me that she and Jer have 6 or more kids. I said,
"Wow, you must be busy parents!" She replied, "Yeah,..
the only time we get a break is when our kids go to bed!"

Jer couldn't remember the term chicken pox so he called his spots "Chicken pot pies, Chicken bites, or Chicken Pops."

New Home

With 3 kids sharing a small bedroom and another baby on the way, we were anxious to find a larger place to live. As we searched the available real estate in our town it quickly became clear that anything remotely in our price range would not be big enough for our family and would be a major fixer-upper. But God can make a way where there seems to be no way.

*The house that someone else was buying.

*The only house in our town in our price range that was big enough AND not in the worst neighborhood in town.

*One of the dirtiest, smelliest houses ever!!!

*Our "dream house" with 2,600 sq. feet, a 2 car garage, 5 bedrooms, a basketball court, playhouse, sandbox, garden area, and fenced backyard--more than we ever thought we'd have!

*A home that appraised much higher than the selling price even while very dirty.

These phrases describe the house that God eventually gave to us in an amazing turn of events. When our realtor called and told us this house was ours if we still wanted it, it was an unbelievable and emotional moment. Later, someone said, "How could anyone deny there is a God after seeing Him so clearly provide this house for you?"

In order to get the appraisal to go through Josiah had to spend many, many hours putting primer on the exposed wood around the house and garage. Before we moved in, he also had to rip out all of the carpeting and paint the floors with KILZ. Friends from church came for a cleaning day and my mom and I spent a few days deep cleaning. After over 250 collective hours of cleaning, we moved in. Josiah spent every spare moment getting the outside of the house repainted before the weather turned cooler. His family was able to come out and helped us do a lot of painting for a few days in August. He also had fun ripping out overgrown brush in our backyard with a Bobcat. We still have much to do but for now it feels like we are living in a mansion and we love having our own place!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Annual Gift-o-Rama Post!

My goal was to do a Handcrafted Gifts series throughout the month of December to highlight lots of wonderful ideas I had for children's homemade gifts.  However, goals die fast when you have a new baby!
So, I'm just now getting around to posting what I'm giving my kids for Christmas.  I like to do this every year as I am greatly inspired by seeing other folks' gift ideas and want to do the same for you!  I had plans to make these snazzy capes for my kids for Christmas, and possibly matching ones for my nephews too, but never got around to it.  Maybe next year!  They love to dress up so I know they would use them!

 My kids don't own any beanbags and they are a fun, classic toy that is easy to make!  I just made a square template on a piece of paper and cut 4 squares from each fabric.  Rather than using denim, or a heavy fabric, I doubled the fabric up so that I could use some of the really cute fabric I had on hand in my stash.  So, each of our 3 oldest kids will get 4 beanbags in their stocking!
 I remembered that my friend Heather had done a post on how to make a Go-Fish Game a couple of years ago and I decided to make one for each of our boys.  I used binding tape instead of string as I had visions of my boys strangling each other with yarn or string!  It's harder to strangle with binding tape and it's harder to eat the magnet at the end of the line if it's inside a felt hook!

I know Justus will like this game as I once caught him "fishing" in the toilet using one of his sister's belts as his fishing pole.

 I had planned to put binkies in Katri's stocking but alas, she is not a binky baby!  I got her a book she can enjoy in a year or two from a clearance sale at and when Robeez were on sale for $11 at with free shipping I snagged these darling little ones for when she is a toddler.  I can't even make them for that considering the time I spend making them.  What a steal!  The first pair of new Robeez I've ever purchased for my kids!
Forgot to rotate this one before I posted.  Ooops!  My kids absolutely LOVED Toy Story 3 and for days after watching it they would only answer to their favorite character from the movie.  So, I knew they would LOVE these as their special surprise gift under the tree on Christmas morning.  (Sidenote:  We don't do the Santa Claus thing but we do something similar--Daddy and I fill the stockings and leave a special gift under the tree, unwrapped, for them to find on Christmas morning). 
I was able to use a 30% off coupon each of these toys, making them very affordable!  Ali will get Jessie, Jer will get Buzz, and Justus will get Mr. Potato Head.

 I made a fabric book for our 1-year-old nephew
I didn't get a picture of our 4 year-old nephew's gift before Ali wrapped it, but we made him a rice tub with little pebbles and jewels and coins in it and he can dig in it with scoops we put in there.  Our kids love our rice tub so we thought it would be a nice, educational toy for him.

In addition to what you see pictured, Ali got a new baby doll that looks just like her, Jer got some new Duplos (this is the #1 toy at our house which all 3 kids play with every single day!), Justus got a xylophone, and Ali got some new slippers.  We try to keep Christmas pretty simple, but sometimes it's hard because it's just soooo fun to give gifts to our kids! 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Heart Squeeze

What I stand to lose:

A homeschool site that I receive fb feeds from mentioned
this tragedy yesterday
and asked everyone to pray for this family.
As I read this very brief post, my heart began constricting within me.
Being a mother is terrifying....because we know how much we stand to lose.
This little boy was almost Justus' age and they look a lot alike.
I don't know how this little boy's life ended,
but I do know how I would feel if I was in this Mama's shoes.
Fear threatens to swallow me whole as I think about
the many times a day I catch my kids doing dangerous things
or the many way they could get hurt or killed.
I begin to think that I need to do more to protect them, supervise them
at every second, burden myself with the task of ensuring that they live.
But I know that I can't.
I must sleep.  I must let them experience life.
Not being able to keep them 100% safe and
not being able to guarantee that my children will outlive me is terrifying...
...until I remember God.
He is sovereign, He is love, and He can be trusted to do what is best for me.
He loves these little ones more than I do. 
He created them, He cares for them,
and He has a plan for their lives.
Even in the deepest pain, He is still in control, and working all things for good for His children.
...the terrors that can rob us of joy in the present living.
But there is grace for real life, each and every day,
and the circumstances God allows to come my way.

Today you'll find me praying relentlessly for Dana and her family.

Absolutely Delicious Cocoa

A lot of homemade cocoa mixes I've tried just haven't been too tasty.  And as a hot cocoa lover, I want my cocoa to be rich and creamy.  I found this recipe this year, which I LOVE!

 These darling felt-topped pencils were made by my friend Amanda, who sold them at a local craft fair for $1.  Soooo cute!
A perfect gift for Sunday School teachers, neighbors, or girl friends!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Discombobulated gives these synonyms for the term "discombobulate."  They are: addle, baffle, bamboozle, beat, befog, befuddle, bemuse, bewilder, buffalo, confound, confuse, disorient, flummox, fox, fuddle, get, gravel, maze, muddle, muddy, mystify, perplex, pose, puzzle, vex.

I have never felt so discombobulated in my life.  Isn't that a cool word?  The word itself sounds cool, but being this word isn't so fun.

Yes, I've been tired before,
Yes I've worked this hard before,
No, I have never felt like my brain has taken a bigger vacation than now. 
If 3 kids kicked my butt, four kids has kicked my butt and stolen my brain!

Often I feel like I'm in a fog and should not be driving! As one friend with 4 kids described, "You feel like you are drowning all the time!"  At times my house is immaculate and I find myself doing oddly insignificant chores like hand-sewing an ornament gift, organizing a kitchen cabinet, or writing thank-you notes, but I always feel terribly behind and like there are a million and one more things for me to do in a day.  If my house is clean, there are 10 loads of laundry beckoning.  If the laundry is done, the kitchen is a disaster zone.  If we're doing school I cannot cook anything to save my life and if I'm cooking a meal it's because we skipped school and I let them watch two movies in a day.  I've never cared so little about what I throw in my grocery cart as I stumble down the aisles in a hazy fog, my coupons long forgotten at home.  On the one hand I miss my "girl time" and my friends terribly and am always trying to get together with them and on the other hand I feel like social engagements are just too much work and that with four kids I've succumbed myself to a life of hermitude.  Some days I've run about 7 errands around town with 4 kids without missing a beat, and some days I can barely get out of my pajamas the entire day and let the kids stay in theirs.  Some days I've hosted lunches or dinners for company and some days I've melted down, crying to my husband that I'm so overwhelmed and under-appreciated.  I managed to get all my Christmas cards and letters done and sent out and yet I've been putting off filling out some paperwork I've had for 4 months because it feels like too much work.  I've never lacked inspiration for blogging like I do now, and my lovelife is just a distant memory.  I used to thrive on listening to sermons, reading deep books, and doing craft projects in my free time once the kids were in bed.  Now, I can't even pay attention to the one sermon a week I hear in church, can't read very much without falling asleep, and prefer to watch TV on Hulu or a movie so I don't have to think in the evenings.  Katrielle isn't a horrible baby and isn't colicky but she is our neediest baby yet and likes to be Mama's arms 24/7 and doesn't like to sleep much.  Add to that the fact that it's the busiest time of the year, my husband has been gone a lot, our church has had some tough issues to work through that have taken thought and discussion, and certain people in my life continually ask me for "little favors" that I struggle with saying no to--this is a window into my world! wise older moms tell me.....this too shall pass!  I know this is a season and that babies grow up too fast.  I know that I will miss having a tiny one and I'd bettersavor her precious cuddles.  In the meantime, I'm saying "No" more often, especially to myself, and am reading the No-Cry Sleep Solution, which a lovely blogging friend and mama of 8 sent me.  I'm thanking the Lord for Veggie Tales, my frozen meals (they have been a lifesaver as usual and there are about 2 more left), chocolate (my energy source), and every little bit of sleep I can get to survive the next day! 

And if you think you've heard it all, just in-laws, all SEVEN of them are coming for Christmas.  Which means we will have company, and 6 kids age 5 and under, in our home for 4.5 days very soon.  So, please pray for me!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Pics

Justus' take on breastfeeding, "I fink she's eatin' your belly button."
 4 weeks

I will not take a pacifier!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Sweet Gift

Remember my friend who made me a wonderful meal and brought it by the day I started labor?  Her name is Lora and she is my "Martha Stewart friend."  She cooks amazing, gourmet, organic meals, decorates beautifully, and is very crafty and organized as well.  I met her at the park 2.5 years ago and knew even before she told me that she was a fellow Christian mom, and we've been friends ever since. 

Sadly, she is moving away in a week.  I'm glad that she will now have more opportunities to see her husband (his job in Spokane won't take him away from home anymore) and be closer to her family but we will miss them a lot!

The other day she gave me her couch they no longer wanted (which happens to be really huge and comfy and match perfectly with our living room), a lovely entryway rug, some pretty houseplants, and tons of wonderful food from their freezer, including organic berries and veggies, butter, fish, and lots of elk meat!  Yum!
She also gave me this sweet little basket purse with a hand-made scarf and card.

I love gifts that have special meanings behind them, like this one.

Lora bought this scarf from an older lady who is a dear friend of her family and an adopted grandma to her boys.  She has no grandchildren of her own and lost her daughter to ovarian cancer when she was only 30.  She makes these scarves to sell at craft shows for a scholarship fund they set up in their daughter's name.

 The daughter who died of cancer was "a wonderful Christian example, always speaking of the Gospel and Jesus' love with all those around her up to the day she died." 

Lora wrote, "I like to think of ladies I know who share her attitude, love of others, and faith and share the Gospel by example to those around them to give the scarves to."
(Pardon my super-fatigued look. 
All photos of myself are scary these days,
but that's what happens when you are on the no-sleep plan!)

I can scarcely read the card without tearing up.
I have far to go in being a godly example,
but the legacy of that young Christian woman
who inspired the scarves will live on
as I'm reminded to be like her when I wear it.

And the sweet words that accompanied the scarf will remind me of a friendship that hopefully will carry on in spite of the miles between us.

Thank you Lora!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Little Child Will Lead Them

One day Ali expressed concern about a couple of friends she has who don't know about Jesus.
She said, "I'm going to make a book to tell them how to get to heaven."  She did the entire book on her own, without any help from me!  It is so precious to me!
How you get to heaven....

Believe in the Lord and you...

Will be saved.

The dark circle is Hell and the other circle is Heaven.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shutterfly's Holiday Card Promotion

I am excited to be able to share the Shutterfly Holiday Card Promotion here at Faithful Homemaking!

I love photos, love cards, and love staying in touch with family and friends, even across the miles.  For the last few years that I've had an account at Shutterfly I have been very happy with the many cards I have created on their site.  They continually have freebies or "only pay shipping" deals that have allowed me to send our parents and grandparents special holiday cards containing photos of our growing brood.  It was in a Shutterfly card that I announced our pregnancies with poems and fun pictures the last couple of times.  Their cards are simple to construct while still being trendy and high-quality.

This year, I am planning to use the Shutterfly holiday cards to send Christmas greetings and show off the newest little member of our family!  The hardest part will be choosing the photo or photos for the card since I take LOTS of pictures!

A year ago I made an Alphabet photo book using pictures of our family through Shutterfly and was very pleased with the quality.  To make a Shutterfly photo book, go here.

Need a gift for a relative?  Make a photo ornament or desk-top calendar!

If you aren't sure what making an online photo card is all about, give it a trial run by signing up here and using the promo code CARD4U to get a free 5x7 photo card (you only pay shipping, which is 99 cents!)

If you are a blogger and would like to join me in doing the Holiday Card Promotion and get 50 Free Holiday Cards through Shutterfly, click here to sign up!

Mysterious Katri

Apparently there is an unspoken rule in the blogosphere that if you blog and also recently had a baby, you must write a post on how wonderful your baby is, sleeping through the night at 5 days old, being super cuddly and agreeable, gaining weight like a champion, and the closest thing to perfection in human form.

But I'm not here to write that post.

Because until I moved her and I down to the guest room where the furnace noises rumble all night, Katri wasn't letting me sleep much, if at all.  This wasn't a bit fun considering how hard it is to get a nap with 3 other kids and considering our family caught the stomach flu bug a SECOND time this fall, causing me to lose all remaining hopes of ever sleeping or feeling normal again.
Many a night I tell my hubby I feel like I'm a slave to a two foot tall tyrant. 
And he nods in agreement, because it's true. 
I can barely set her down long enough to go to the bathroom once or twice a day! 
A shower is a big accomplishment!
Katri is a "womb service" kind of girl, wanting to be held all day and all night too, though I've recently gotten her to the point of just sleeping inches away from me instead of in my arms.  I am so glad I bought the book, "The Happiest Baby on the Block" at a yard sale this summer because it helped me to understand the fourth trimester and how to care for needy newborns who miss the womb. 
My hubby adores babies and was hoping she'd be another "Daddy's Girl" whom he could cuddle every night but instead, she usually insists on being held by Mama exclusively, due in part to her 3-4 hour nursing jags in the evenings.

Don't get me wrong!  Katrielle is every bit as loved and as darling to me as the super easygoing babies are to their mamas.  She is snuggly and soft and doesn't cry when you are holding her.  She makes the funniest little faces and delights our hearts as we spent countless minutes each day staring at her tiny fists, or her little peaceful  face as she sleeps.  We wouldn't trade her in for anything in the world!  We would do anything for her, as my cricked neck from awkward sleeping positions attests!

But she is definitely a mystery to us sometimes!  For the first time as parents we aren't sure what kind of personality she has yet.  Easygoing or strongwilled, energetic or prim and proper, social or hermit-like--we don't know!For the first time we are having to use burp cloths, as she's the first baby we've had who spits up occasionally.  She's the only baby we've had to burp consistently, and she absolutely adores being swaddled, which none of our other kids liked.  She hangs out in a sling all day, unlike her sister who absolutely hated slings. 

So, I live in a strange paradox of feeling totally confident in my mothering abilities with Baby #4 and totally unsure of what to do at other times.  I know what I'm doing in a general sense, and yet, because each baby is so different, I still feel like I have much to learn and grow in as a parent of this little one.

The journey isn't easy and breezy, but I am enjoying it!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sugar and Spice

 Alathia said of her new sister, "I just can't stop loving her!"

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