Friday, December 17, 2010

Do You Hear What I Hear?

My tree fell over last week.  While it had almost all of the ornaments on.  (My kids were upstairs, so they couldn't be squashed by it... or blamed for its demise.)  I was in another room, too. The sound of a million pieces of glass tinkling as the ornaments hit my hard word floor would have been prettier if I hadn't known exactly what had happened.  But the sound of a Christmas tree falling over has a very distinct sound.

My first reaction (despite the fact that I've been collecting and hording away ornaments for almost 20 years now, like some sort of crazed squirrel) was actually pretty good. "They're just ornaments," I told myself. And then I remembered 2 that weren't just ornaments to me.

My Great Grandmother Black's Baby Doll Ornament- safe!

And the angel ornament I received from my aunt, Nine, on the day I was, not safe.

I cried-- only a little.  The countless others that broke, I was okay with, but this one was special. I still have the gift box and card she came with and I read the card every year when I place her on the tree. 

My momma brought me a surprise today. 

I think I'll keep them both.  Thank you, Momma!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Sometimes I'm a good wife and stay up until 2:45 editing papers due early in the morning.

And sometimes he's a good husband and buys me gorgeous flowers as a thanks.

Thank you, Jesse... I love you, too!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Okay, I Haven't Completely Stopped Blogging...

I've just been doing it elsewhere the past couple of weeks.

For the past two years, my church has been involved in Advent Conspiracy.  Both years, we put together a devotional guide to take our congregation through a worshipful Advent season.  This year, I've been posting each day's devotional to a blog.  Some of the devotionals I've written, some of them are by other people in our church and others are quotes out of the Advent Conspiracy book.  All are challenging and encourage you to focus on Jesus during this season that retailers would like to make all about consumerism.  Anyway, if you'd like to follow along over there, that's where most of my time and energy is being spent.  (Well, that and getting ready for Christmas with Jesse's family). But, either way, I hope to see you back here on a more regular basis at the beginning of a New Year!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Things I'm Thankful for This Year

A smiley girl who keeps us laughing and on our toes!
(Last week, she ran away from my sister at Barnes & Noble.  Elisabeth found her with the trains and told her she couldn't play with them because she ran away from her.  Eliana told Elisabeth: "That okay.  My mommy bring me here tomorrow to play with the trains." Wow.)

 My little boy who is growing up so quickly! (Three weeks today and you've already rolled from your tummy to your back twice... I'm in trouble.)

A sweet boy who's had a hard time adjusting to having his schedule turned upside down by the arrival of his brother.  (But who couldn't love him more... he spends great chunks of time watching his baby.)

This guy... who's not afraid to do diapers or help with getting up in the middle of the night (in spite of the fact that he's going to school and taking a couple of really hard courses this semester).  And who is also well known for his ability to swaddle a kid better than anyone.

Thank you, Jesus, for my sweet family.  Even in the middle of trying or tiring times... they bring such joy!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Our Stay at the Hospital

 Ready to nurse immediately... he had to wait over an hour.  (The downside of a c-section.)

The nurse said: "One day, he'll laugh over this picture and you guys in your blue hair nets." In the mean time, I guess you get to laugh.

Flowers from Momma.

Flowers from Youth for Christ.

Diego loves Cruz.  (He calls him "my Cruz".)

Panera (thankfully) is across the street from Wesley.

Cruz spending time with Diego, Yaya, and Eliana.

Welcome, little boy, we're so glad to finally meet you!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Time for Tea

This year's costumes (I knew) had to be low key for me. Sewing was not an option this year with a baby due less than a week out.  I repeated to myself: I will not buy fabric, I will not buy fabric.  I'd like to say that I didn't and to be honest, most of the elements were pulled from somewhere around my house, my parent's home, and my aunt, Nine contributed a top hat.  Then there was the dress... I didn't stress.  Everyone else did instead, I think.  I'd gone to a couple of second hand shops and hadn't found a flower girl dress, and I wasn't finding one on Craigslist either.  SO, my mom, my sister, and Nine all went to about 45 second hand shops between them and couldn't find one either.  (They got so desperate that Nine actually bought lingerie with a built in bra... oh my! in hopes of reassembling it into something that would work.) Then the day before, I thought I'd try one shop while Jesse and the kids ran through the Micky D's drive-thru, and they had about 5 flower girls dresses to choose from.  So, there you have it.

Mad Hatter -Diego sweat his make-up off in no time flat. I did hand stitch some lace onto the cuffs of last year's Christmas jacket. The thread bandolier was the most fun to make... I love those vintage spools of thread... (my momma found them at an estate sale for a buck).

White Queen- Eliana's smeared lipstick was my own fault...fortunately for her she ate before she went out and Elisabeth reapplied it much more prettily.  I used a white spray in her hair (it looks pretty gray but my mom and I thought that there would have been no way of keeping a wig on her at this point).  There were a few undone stitches on this dress that my momma restitched so Eliana could wear the dress.

This was a group effort and I have to say that the other mommas did much more than I did. Because you can't have Wonderland without...

Alice! Evie was the perfect little Alice (even though she wasn't too terribly thrilled to put on her costume that evening).  Emily did find the dress at a second hand shop and I believe she had the pinafore from a previous costume, but she modified both of them quite a bit.  Such sweetness!

Absolom, the Caterpillar. Finley was such a hit!  (What a beautiful first Halloween costume!) I believe, was completely from scratch... go Elisabeth!  Even the hookah! 

Now, one of these days I'm going to learn my lesson about photos.

First, I have a very slow point and shoot that I know I should be grateful for, but grrr... it usually goes something like this: I say, "Look at me you guys." They look, I push the button, they look away, the camera finally flashes.  If anyone knows how to fix the timing on my camera I would be eternally grateful.  But I have a feeling it's just the camera and I'm going to have to deal. So, I need to learn to take individual shots of the kids!  Because getting a good shot of just one of the kids is a big challenge.  But my goodness! Trying to get four kids to look at me all at the same time is impossible.

This is as good as it gets of a group shot.

Second, it probably would also help if the kids had any sort of clue who to look at- there were four cameras going off at the same time.  But maybe someone else ended up with better photos... we'll see.

Third, must take Halloween photos before sun sets outside. Must, must, must.  (There's always next year, right?)

Hope you all had a happy Halloween... ours was splendid despite my lack of good photos (because it involved Potato Cheddar Ale Soup and Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread Pudding with Praline Sauce and wonderful family!) Oh yeah... fourth, must take photos of spectacular food and family next year.  On that note: I give up! *sigh*

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thirty-Eight and Still Kicking

(Fortunately.) Diego hit his thirty-eighth day of school this last week. When he reached it, I reminded him that his Papi's birthday would be later in the the week and that Papi would be turning 38.
Diego: But I'm sad.

Me: Why?

Diego: I will miss Papi.

Me: Why are you going to miss Papi?

Diego: Well, he is going to be so old and then he is going to die.

Me: Well, probably not quite yet.  (Grandpa is a lot older than Papi and he's still alive.)

Diego: Oh, okay.

I was lazy and didn't even make a cake for my husband's birthday.  I was mean and made him go into Cold Stone by himself to pick out his own cake. He chose well; it was way yummy!

Mom helped Diego and Eliana put on the candles. Yes, it does say 23... that's Jesse's birthdate, so to Diego it made perfect sense. It made me laugh. I wonder if this picture will be confusing later on in life as we are looking back.

Jesse, I love you and am so thankful I get to share my life and such beautiful kids with you!  (And I'm glad you made it through your 38th birthday.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Six More Days (and Friday Favorites)

The crib is not yet up.  And I still have a swing and bedding and stroller to pull out and wash.

But I have two boxes of diapers purchased.  And a breast pump from a college friend -thanks, Beth!

And our sweet friend, Adelita gave us a cute little outfit, a coat, and (most importantly) pacifiers. Thank you, Addy!

I've made a lasagna and bierocks that are now in the freezer and ready to go. 

I'm (for the most part) done at work, so I can focus on more prep... and although I was originally going to do school with the kids this week, I decided we needed to take a break, so we're doing that as well.

I've got Thursday and that night covered for childcare. (I need to sit down and figure out the rest and then get things packed for the kids- and I suppose myself.)

About Cruz Esteban: Cruz is Spanish for Cross and is also Jesse's grandmother's maiden name. I never met her, but she was a constant presence throughout Jesse's childhood, living just down the block, and her faith in Jesus combined with the special moments they spent just the two of them had a great impact on his life. (He would often run down the street to her house when he got in trouble. I never have been able to understand this. I would have been too afraid to run away for the extra trouble I would have encountered.  And apparently he did run into extra trouble for pulling this stunt, but he would still run down the street to her house to delay the inevitable.) Esteban is a Spanish form of Stephen. It is not a family name per say, but we love Stephen's strong example of faith. Stephan means Crown and the combination of Cross and Crown reminds me of my dad's favorite hymn, The Old Rugged Cross. The last two lines in the chorus say: "I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown." I hope that life and promise for Cruz!

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Have a kid who doesn't want to go to church?

I'd be naive to think that every kid who shows up in my Sunday School class or Wednesday night program wanted to be there. Some suck it up and behave well (and generally end up enjoying themselves), but then there are others who misbehave as a way to get out.

Tonight, I had to call a mom and talk to her about her son, she told me he didn't want to be there and that's why he was behaving the way he was... I told her I'd like to see her deal with the problem on her end so that we wouldn't have to pull him from the program while I'm on maternity leave. She hung up on me. Somehow (in her mind) the problem that she has with him not wanting to go while she wants him to be there should rest solely on the shoulders of my staff.

I disagree. Her answer was to just go ahead and pull him from the program. *sigh* I love this kid and did not want to see that happen. I believe that he is learning about God despite his bad behaviour and wish that she would have reacted differently and partnered with me in order to see a change in him. If you want your kid to go to church (or school for that matter) but behaviour is a problem, the answer is not to reward them by giving the child his way. Rather, you make him realize that inappropriate behaviour will not just make the teacher and the parents miserable, it will also make life miserable for him. Even this college student isn't too old to learn this lesson. And fortunately, for him, he had a smart momma. Sure wish the mom I talked to this evening had the same sense.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

One meal down... and other preparations

(Or lack thereof.)

At this point, I am just three weeks out from welcoming our third little one, Cruz.  Can I say how ready I am to be done being pregnant at this point?  I am looking forward to no longer having this little one lay sideways inside me; making me extremely uncomfortable. (Good thing he'll be a c-section baby because he is definitely not head down.) Anyway, while I am ready to no longer be pregnant, I am not feeling ready at all in any other sense of the word.

The baby crib is not yet set up; I haven't thought about packing a bag for the hospital.  Infant toys have yet to be pulled out of the attic and washed and we have yet to sell our Santa Fe and purchase a minivan.  (I'm not terribly worried about this one yet... I do know it's possible to slam the doors shut and get three car seats all the way across the back, but it's not easy or convenient.) I won't go into all the ways we were prepared for the other two.  But I do wonder if it's this way for other moms their third time around or if it's just me.


I do realize that part of my lack of preparation is that I have other children vying for my attention that might otherwise be spent preparing for Cruz (and I want to give as much to them as is possible since they will probably very soon feel slighted themselves.) But there's also the lack of people reminding me to get things done.  Very few people have asked what things I need, which frankly, has allowed me to forget to actually think about what I need: breast pump (the last two times I've borrowed one... and it's going to be more necessary this time around for me to actually have one than the previous two times), diapers, pacifiers (please God, let him take a pacifier!), warmer clothes in small sizes (since Diego was a summer baby). To be honest, there's not that much I do need in the way of actually purchasing items, so it makes sense that no one has asked.  Except that... without people constantly asking me, I somehow have completely forgotten that I ought to be preparing for this little guy until now. 

So, this week, I am trying to get on the ball.  And I started by making a meal that I love and can freeze: Poppy Seed Chicken.  It's simple and way yummy. The ladies at the United Methodist Church in Udall often make it for funerals (which is where I first had it) and boy is it good comfort food!

Here's the recipe, give it a try sometime:

6 cups of cubed, cooked chicken (I bought a rotisserie chicken late at night for $2.99 Manager's Special and just deboned that.  Easy and cheap!)
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream of chicken
1 can cream of mushroom

Mix these ingredients and put in the bottom of a casserole dish.

Then mix:

1 stick of melted butter
2 sleeves of crushed Ritz crackers
2 tablespoons of poppy seeds (I usually use a bit less- poppy seeds are on the expensive side.)

Spread cracker mixture over the chicken mixture, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes. 

So, now I have one meal in the freezer prepared for this baby.  I also bought lots of paper plates and cups because (let's face it) I barely get dishes done when I don't have a new baby at home, so that will be one less thing to worry about. 

Now, to begin crossing other things off my list.  It'll get there, right?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Autumn Apples

Do you remember learning this Johnny Appleseed Prayer as a child?  I do and my momma says she does, too.  So, the week we studied apples and the letter A, I had to teach it to my kiddos, too.  They loved it... it's such a sweet little song (and to think that Disney put this one together! -albeit in 1948).

I think Apple week has been the most fun so far.  We started the week early by going to pick apples with my mom and sister and (of course) baby Finley.  Now, I thought I was being smart.  Earlier in the week, our home school group had gone out to an orchard I'd been to before in Butler County (on a Wednesday- so we were unable to go with them) only to arrive and be told their apples weren't ripe for the picking.  Now, to me, if you're going to schedule a group of kids to come and pick apples in your orchard, you had better call and cancel (or at least give the moms who are driving all the way out to pick apples the option to cancel) if your apples aren't ripe.  But from what I understand, they didn't.  So I got back on and found another orchard in Sumner county that did have apples to pick.

We had a lovely time. 

The morning was nice, we got some lovely pictures. 

The kids were enjoying themselves immensely until my mom noticed that my kids were knee deep in poison ivy!  In fact, as we were quickly rushing back to the car to leave, we noticed that all the trees had a lovely blanket of poison ivy under them!  Ack!  Very fortunately, we were able to wash up quickly and none of us (including my highly allergic mom and sis) ended up with a rash.  However, I wouldn't suggest anyone try the place unless they are particularly fond of poison ivy.  So, does anyone else know of a place next year for us to try who will let people know before they arrive that they don't have apples ready to pick... and also that doesn't think that poison ivy makes a lovely ground cover under their trees?  I'd love your suggestions on that one because I love the idea of making apple picking a yearly event but would like to find a new location in Sedgwick County or the surrounding area.

Some of our activities during Apple Week included:

Making Apple Crisp

Eating Apple Crisp topping before it had a chance to make it on the crisp.

Making Applesauce (Next time I'll remember to have jars ready for canning so we don't end up having to eat applesauce at every single meal for a week.)

 Taste-testing a large variety of apples- (From l to r) Honey Crisp, Jonagold, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Gala.

 Our winner ended up being the Jonathan -the kids favorite and my second (my favorite was the Honey Crisp).  I was pleased with this consensus because Jonathans are great for baking with and they're so affordable... of course, maybe the kids like them so much because I buy them all the time and it's what they're familiar with.  (Either way, I'll take it!) How about you?  What's your favorite apple?

Friday, October 8, 2010

L-l-living and growing in Jesus

Our fourth week of school included studying the letter L and leaves and trees.  Our curriculum had us start the week by looking at a tree and all of it's beautiful leaves and talking a bit about how the roots get water from the ground that feed the leaves.  Then I was supposed to choose a leaf and tell the kids that leaf didn't want the tree to be its boss anymore; that it wanted to be its own boss and go where it wanted to go instead of staying on the tree.  Then I picked it off the tree and brought it inside with us.

Over the week, we watched the leaf shrivel and dry up because it wasn't living and growing on the tree anymore.  We observed the leaves that were still on the tree and how they were still nice and green.  And we talked a lot about how just like the leaf gets its water from the tree.  That we get water from Jesus when we live and grow in Him.  We talked about how we can live and grow in Jesus by talking to Him, reading the Bible and learning to obey Him.  And we talked about how some people decide they want to be their own boss instead of living and growing in Jesus and how their lives are just like that leaf- without the water they need to continue to live and grow.

Again this concept seemed to me to be beyond what I thought Diego could really understand... even with all the great visual illustrations.  But last week, I had a rather lousy night at work.  Many of the kids I work with in our Wednesday night ministry are from... how shall I say it?  Well, most of them live in great poverty and are not typically church goers and many of them come from broken homes without shining examples in their lives to look up to.  One of the younger boys in our program decided to get himself into a great amount of trouble which meant I had to discipline him.  *Sigh.*  I told him because of his behavior he would have to miss a night of Wednesday programming because he needed to learn to listen to and obey his teachers and that he would not be able to have a tootsie roll (our regular prize to kids who keep their seat belts on the whole way home).  As he left the vehicle, he ended up punching the door and calling me some choice words. 

Anyway, when I got home, Diego was still awake in his bed and I went in say goodnight and ask for some extra hugs (which I needed that night).  We talked a bit about why I was sad and then he said, "Mami, I think that boy is just like that leaf and wants to be his own boss.  He needs to let Jesus be his boss."  From the mouths of babes... my goodness, of course! We ended up praying for the little guy to make Jesus his boss and I said goodnight.  Thank you, God, for Diego's insight and understanding!  Thank you, God, for helping remind me of the reason I do this job that takes me away from my own kids one night a week!  Thank you, God, for allowing me the resources to train my kids up in You!

Hope you all have a great weekend living and growing in Jesus!

Thursday, September 30, 2010


The week after we studied the Sun (and the concept that Jesus is the light of the world), we began to study the moon (and I am the light of the world).  I was so amazed at how my four-year-old was able to catch on to this concept so well when it's such a hard spiritual lesson to grasp.  First, we locked ourselves away in our upstairs bathroom that doesn't have a window. (What? You didn't know that we had an upstairs bathroom? That's because we've lived in this house for 4 years now and it's still not finished with the remodeling phase and so only immediate family members have ever been allowed to enter it.)
A random school picture brought to you by the letters d-i-e-g and o. 

Anyway, back to being locked away in a dark room.  I took a globe, a flashlight, and a mirror into the room with me.  Yes, I had to bring a mirror into the bathroom because our bathroom doesn't have one... not finished yet, remember? We talked about how the sun gives light to the world like the flashlight pointing on the globe.  Then we discussed how the mirror didn't make light of its own, but how it could reflect light from the flashlight.  We talked about how this is why the moon isn't as bright as the sun and only gives us a little bit of light and then we talked about how we are like the moon and can't make our own light, but if we are close to Jesus then we can reflect his light in our lives.  And then we sang This Little Light of Mine about a million, we didn't stay in our dark, unfinished bathroom for the singing bit.  In the evening or over lunch break, I often have the kids share with Jesse what they're learning... (it's my way of evaluating what they've actually learned and what I need to repeat again).   I was amazed at how well Diego could explain these concepts to Jesse right away. 

I am grateful for the opportunity to teach both of my kids about the Lord and I pray for the days when they will both make personal decisions to follow Jesus.  Sometimes, I begin to wonder: How long is it going to take Diego to grasp it and make that decision?  But Jesse and I met through an organization called Youth For Christ and one of the things I love about that ministry is their vision- part of which says they want young people: to make an informed decision to be a follower of Jesus Christ.  So, when I'm in a hurry for Diego to make a decision, I remind myself of the importance of not making a rushed decision that isn't carefully weighed.  I want Diego to understand what he's committing to and Who he's giving his life to- so in the mean time, I am so thankful that he is learning so many great concepts of who God is and what it means to live in Him.

Wow, this post just took a much deeper turn than I had originally intended.  But my main goal is to record my thoughts and our days to (hopefully) one day share with my kids.  (I don't scrapbook... and the kids baby books' are dreadfully underfinished.) So, I guess it's okay.

M is for Meatloaf... I know, not very exciting, but really easy to do and throw in the oven while we venture off for 30 minutes of soccer practice. 

And Mosaics... I loved how careful and thorough Eliana was when making her Letter M Mosaic.

And of course the Moon- which we had to figure out how far it was away from earth and then how far away that was from the sun.  Do you see our green earth in one corner of our paper and our moon down at the bottom right of the paper?

Eliana and I held the sun down on our picnic blanket (and may have taken a short nap)  While Diego and Jesse took the earth and moon paper and measured out 300 some yards at the park.  Another excuse to get outside and also a perfect way to get Jesse involved in a piece of our school- which we really like since he can't be there for the whole thing.  Why must Papi go to work?  Oh, we have to eat?  Oh, yeah... thank you, Papi!  We love you and miss you when you're at work!