Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bargain Shopping

I had a $50 gift card and a coupon for $10 off any purchase of $50 or more from a popular department store and so, over the weekend, I ventured out to the mall without my children because my options on that fateful afternoon were to either leave home for a few hours by myself or go insane, completely and irreversibly. I think I chose the better option. :)

Pleased with my "free" purchases, I came home with a pair of jeans for Dylan, a 3 pack of boys' size 8 briefs (his 4T's just weren't fitting any more...hmmmm, wonder why?), a pair of slippers for Caitlyn, new socks for Meghan, and a new pair of jeans for myself. (Two sizes smaller than the ones I wore to the mall! Yay me!) Altogether, the total sum came to $53, which, after subtracting the $10 discount, left me $7 remaining on the gift card. Not bad!

While my upbeat mood was still prime for shopping, I thought I'd try my luck at the Goodwill store near my mom's house. I brought her along with me to help counteract the intense feelings of guilt I experienced at leaving my poor neglected children at home with their Daddy all afternoon. :)

We could not believe our great finds! After much searching (basically through every rack in the children's area) we had a cart loaded with the most adorable outfits. I was actually a little nervous as we finally made our way to the checkout counter, because I hadn't been paying any attention at all to how much I might be spending. I needn't have worried: the grand total for my purchases came to a mere $59! Unlike the department store earlier, however, at which I had purchased five items for nearly the same amount of money, included in this amount were...

Are you ready for this?

...eight skirts, one dress, and five shirts for Caitlyn; four shirts and one skirt for Meghan; one darling pair of corduroy pants for Kristen; one pair of dress slacks and a hoodie for Dylan; one shirt for Darren; and 2 children's books!

And, as a side note: these clothes are really cute! I was so appalled at the limited (very limited) selection of "cute" girl clothes available at the mall. Disgusted, really, was more like what I felt at the inappropriate clothing brazenly displayed in the little girls' department. What ever happened to modesty? I was watching Molly: An American Girl on the Homefront with my girls on the night before my shopping excursion and we just fell in love with the beautiful, feminine clothing worn by the graceful heroine. Even I was inspired to find more dignified apparel! How lovely were the ladies of the 1940's!

And how lovely is my Caitlyn Grace, proudly modeling one of her beautiful new outfits. Would you ever guess her favorite color is pink? :)

My aspiring author

Dylan, as I'm sure many of my regular blog readers know, loves typing stories on the computer. I've posted some in the past, but his style has really matured and Darren and I are constantly amazed at the half finished tales we are forever finding minimized at the bottom of our computer screen. We encourage him to finish one before starting another, but sometimes, he just can't wait! He just posted one of his completed stories on his Super Wilson Blog, but I'm posting this one, too, because I just love it so much. It's just a start, but it's entirely his...spelling, punctuation, everything. I'm posting it as it appears in the Word document so you can appreciate the full effect of his work. He is really amazing to watch, typing faster than his Nonny and changing font sizes and styles to suit the story! I love my boy. :)

Monday, December 29, 2008

More Christmas Fun!

I already posted my favorite photos of Christmas day, but because I never did get around to posting these photos during Advent, I thought it would be fun to share them now as a contribution to the Christmas Home Tour being held over at Faith and Family Live!

I just love our Christmas home. Here is a peek at our living room, illuminated warmly by the soft glow of Christmas lights. A crackling fire in the fireplace would complete the picture nicely, as would children playing sweetly on the floor in front of it, but the perfectionist in me snapped this photo just after tidying up one recent afternoon. :)

Our Advent bookshelf was a new concept this year, inspired by posts I had seen last year with lovely wooden letters spelling out the word "PREPARE". Being the last-minute-planner I am, however, and an impatient one at that, we improvised with ours and used what we had on hand...card stock. That stuff never lets me down! It's worked in a pinch many, many times. :) We have on display here our Little People Nativity set, to be played with by small hands, as well as our collection of Christmas videos, DVDs, and picture books. I love this shelf so much. And thanks to a generous gift from Darren's father, we added a number of beautiful new books to our personal library this year.

The top of our entertainment center is home to the beautiful wooden train set we received a few years ago as a gift from my Mom. Also, a reminder that "Santa Claus is coming to town". My very favorite feature of the entertainment center display this year, though, is the "town square" of our Christmas village, decorated by Dylan with a crafty aluminum Christmas tree he made entirely on his own one night after watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas". :)

Our handcrafted nativity set was embellished this year with added greenery and a golden star. I think it's just lovely. (The infant Jesus was added on Christmas morning, but this photo was taken during Advent.)

And finally, here are our "stockings hung by the chimney with care" on Christmas Eve. We were so happy to actually find a stocking for Kristen to match those of her sisters and brother!

Thank you so much for stopping by for this virtual tour of my Christmas Home. And please, I hope you will forgive my excessive use of sideways-smileys. They do so little, really, to convey the true joy I feel at this time of year. But, in this cyber world, they'll just have to do. :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Kristen's very first Christmas included her very first trip to the Emergency Room! (Because, you know, there's just never enough excitement around here.) Somehow, in the first few moments after awakening on Christmas morning, shortly after being placed in the center of the living room floor among the many treasures brought by Santa, Kristen began screaming, and screaming, and soon, she wouldn't even open her eyes. Sufficiently scared, we called the on-call pediatrician, who advised us to take her in to the ER right away in case she had suffered a corneal abrasion, which, he said, could quickly become infected if left untreated. Poor Kristen! Her first Christmas, spent in the waiting room of the ER! Sure enough, though, she had somehow acquired a nasty scratch down her right cornea, which Darren said glowed a garish orange under the black light with which they examined her eye.

But by evening, after a dose of Motrin and a couple applications of antibiotic ointment, she was feeling well enough to finally open her gifts in the darkened living room. (You can see in the photo below the hospital ID band around her right ankle. We forgot to take it off until we were getting her ready for bed!)

Happily, she seems to have recovered remarkably well, and shows no distress at all, even in full light. She was rechecked yesterday morning, as per doctor's orders, and we were advised to continue the ointment through the weekend, though she shows no signs of complications.

Other memorable moments, and a few favorite photos, from our unforgettable Christmas:

I pray you all had a very blessed and joyous Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Guess what? It looks like at least one of my Christmas wishes will be coming true tonight! Not quite in the way I had hoped, but still...remember that cough I mentioned, the one that just wouldn't quit? Darren finally made me see a doctor yesterday, after a particularly scary night of coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness. Turns out I have a double ear infection, a definite case of bronchitis, and possibly pneumonia. (I was sent for a chest X-ray late yesterday afternoon but haven't yet heard back from the doctor.) Following two particularly painful injections in my backside, I returned home with several prescriptions, a home nebulizer, and a written note excusing me from work until my next appointment next Monday. See how the Lord provides? :)

Also, since I've not been so good about regularly posting the happy little happenings around here lately, I'm including these now before they are forever lost in the Christmas mix. Here, though you'll have to look closely to see her in this first photo, is our new little kitten, Amy! She was rescued from the street by our neighbors, but, since they already have three mature cats of their own, they were looking to find a home for her, and once my girls saw her, there was no hesitation! We gladly accepted her into our home and she is just the cutest little thing. We think Mikey really enjoys having a new playmate, too. They are so fun to watch, chasing each other and tumbling about, or just snoozing curled up together on one of the beds. She's a very sweet and gentle little kitty, tolerant even of Kristen's exuberant grasping of fur and Meghan's constant desire to hold her.

This next photo, I think, needs little explanation. My mom! Here, in my backyard! Enough said, right? We took this photo of her as a Christmas gift for her husband. Isn't she beautiful? :)

We celebrated Meggie's third birthday last weekend, while my older brother and his family were here visiting. How awesome it was for her to have so much family around to help celebrate! She is just such a little darling. Her favorite color is yellow, and she told me she wanted a yellow star for her cake this year! She had such a happy party. I can't believe my girl is three!

And oh, this next one is just so cool: carol singers! In my living room! On my anniversary! My younger brother is the second from the left, there in the snowman tie. This delightful surprise, a private performance by him and his friends (a quartet known as the Cactus Carolers) was his gift to us this year and it was just amazing. They sounded beautiful, and we were so touched at their generosity. Thanks again, Rob!

A couple final pictures, here to wrap things up: my sweet Kristen, who is so close to crawling (but who has devised many ways of moving stealthily around in the mean time!). Cropped out of this picture is the beer bottle with which my brother had been enticing her. :)

And because I never tire of this sight...my man and our baby. Pure love.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Real time blogging.

I'm sipping eggnog and listening to The Nativity Story: Sacred Songs while wrapping presents and I don't even care that my children are wielding empty wrapping paper rolls as weapons because my mom, who is home for the holidays, has just talked me down from the brink of panic, which I've been rapidly approaching over recent preceding days. It's all good.

And this photo has nothing to do with anything at all,
but isn't my Cait just too cute for words? :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Two became one ten years ago today.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Questions

Since I've got nothing else to offer, I'm responding here to an e-mail I received from my sister in law. I thought it was fun, and if anyone else plays along, I'd love to see your responses! It's the "Christmas edition of getting to know your friends"!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? A combination of both
2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial
3. When do you put up the tree? Thanksgiving weekend
4. When do you take the tree down? After Epiphany
5. Do you like eggnog? YES!!!
6. Favorite gift received as a child? A diary. I still have it.
7. Hardest person to buy for? My Dad
8. Easiest person to buy for? Darren
9. Do you have a nativity scene? No...we have several!
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? There's no such thing! It's the thought that counts!
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Home Alone
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually, the day after Thanksgiving.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Posole
16. Lights on the tree? LOTS!
17. Favorite Christmas song(s)? Joseph's Song, Thankful, Breath of Heaven
18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home? Stay at home
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Of Course!
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Presents from extended family on Christmas Eve, presents from Santa and immediate family on Christmas morning
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? My tendency to try to "do it all".
23. What theme or color are you using? Right now, we're using lots of purple for Advent, with some traditional reds and greens, too.
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Posole and tamales
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? A sewing machine! And to be able to stay home from work on Christmas Eve, but I don't think that's going to happen. :(

Friday, December 05, 2008

Thanksgiving. (Better late than never.)

I was so happy to see tonight that my sister-in-law posted some super cute photos of their Thanksgiving celebration, and then sheepishly realized that I've yet to post any of our own. How does this happen? Could it be, perhaps, that I've spent the better part of the last two weeks battling the cough that just won't quit? I am so exhausted. But, because I know that Darren's dad, at least, has been patiently awaiting updates, here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving photos. I was especially happy to have captured a perfect Christmas card worthy photo of all four children together. And yay! This year, it only took five tries!

My Aunt and her husband graciously hosted a beautiful meal and had a wonderful activity table set up for the children to color and craft before dinner. (Aunt Martha, we missed you!) We had a great time!

Edited to add: Oops! I told you I was exhausted! I completely forgot last night that I also wanted to include these pictures my dad e-mailed me. The first one is of him and his sister. (That's their mom—my grandma!—holding Kristen in the second picture above.) Also pictured here is the lovely craft table I mentioned...complete with my entire family! :)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thoughts to ponder

From Mrs. Sharp's Traditions:

"Whether or not you know it, you are creating memories. When your children are grown, the holidays—their Christmas Past—can come to mean memories of gazing out the window at gently falling snow together, the sounds of bells and joyful music, the sweet smells of hot cider, roast turkey, and gingerbread, sipping hot chocolate and reading a holiday story each night at dusk, warm fires crackling on the hearth, bright wrapping paper and ribbons, beautiful cards that arrive each day bringing greetings, the joy of a few choice and desired presents, and the gift of a loving family smiling in the glow of holiday candlelight.

Or their Christmas memories can be of Mother racing around, out of breath, out of energy, out of love, out of patience because she's so exhausted trying to do everything for everybody. It can mean tears and tantrums, screaming and yelling and hustle and bustle, arguing over money, over relations, over holiday humbug.

It's your choice."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful Turkey

I just love this guy. Isn't he adorable? He is the product of our shared creative effort: Darren drew his body, I cut out all his feathers and hat, the girls colored his face and feet, we all brainstormed things for which we are thankful, and Dylan carefully transcribed them for us onto the colorful feathers. Love him. Do I have to take him down for Advent? :)

A Morning Prayer

"O God, our Father, we thank you for waking us to see the light of this new day. Grant that we may waste none of its hours; soil none of its moments; neglect none of its opportunities; fail in none of its duties. And bring us to the evening time undefeated by any temptation, at peace with ourselves, and with you. This we ask for your love's sake." Amen.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Random Photos

I was just sorting through my drafts folders and found this eclectic mix of photos that I somehow never posted. They're pretty cute, though, and I know I'll want to see them again someday down the road. And I'm sure the grandparents would like to see them, too. :)

These were actually taken the first weekend of November, right after Halloween. I love this first one, in which Dylan is hard at work excavating the pyramid we bought for him at the Renaissance Fair. Protective eyewear came included with the kit! I just love the sweet look of concentration evident on his happy face, and that hammering hand in motion!

These next few are a photo documentation of Kristen's first taste of "real" food: rice cereal! The lighting was horrible, because it was night time, but I was able to sort of salvage these through photoshop. I particularly love the second one. :)

And finally, because they're so pretty that I've yet to take them down, here are the Halloween mosaics the children made for our craft cabinet doors. I like that they fill the panes perfectly, resembling stained glass windows. We intentionally made them vaguely fall-ish rather than overtly Halloween, because I knew I'd never want to remove them. They're still hanging proudly in our learning room. :)

We've been slow to transition to Thanksgiving preparations, but we're excited now to finally be getting started. Darren has actually worked with the children on some cute Turkey crafts, and I've got a few ideas we might try today. Yesterday for our History lesson, Dylan read The First Thanksgiving to Caitlyn while she snuggled against him on the couch. There are days when I seriously question our decision to homeschool, but moments like these come along sweetly, unexpectedly, that make it all worthwhile. We are so blessed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

While left unattended...

Late Saturday afternoon, I instructed the children that Daddy and I needed a few minutes of private time and ushered Darren into our bedroom. Seating myself at the computer, I began navigating through page after page of excellent Christmas gift ideas that I wanted to show him, but had to keep stopping due to numerous interruptions. Finally, exasperated, I admonished a stern warning: "Listen carefully! Mommy and Daddy have closed this door for a reason! Don't even knock...we will not let you in unless there is an absolute emergency! Do you all understand?!" I then locked the door, just for good measure. (Sometimes, I can be really mean that way.) Moments later, though, a rustling sound is heard and we turn to see a sheet of paper being slid beneath our door:

Oh sweet Jesus! I should have known better than to lock that dang door. Never fear, though: turns out it was just a superficial scrape to the knuckle of his left thumb when the apple peeler he was trying to use didn't quite cooperate. And actually, the first thing he said was, "Wait! Don't put a band-aid on it yet, Mom! Can I look at some blood under the microscope?" That boy. He is just like his mother. :)

Later (because we just never learn), the children were working on assorted crafts at the kitchen table while Darren was getting dinner ready and I was getting Kristen to sleep in our bedroom. Darren had momentarily left the room, and when he walked back in he was startled to discover a clump of hair laying on the floor! I wanted to cry when I saw that Meghan had very neatly snipped about two inches from the hair surrounding her face! I was so distraught, in fact, that Darren wouldn't even let me do anything to it right then...he wisely made me wait until after returning home from work yesterday morning to attempt a repair. And by then, of course, I'd had time to reflect on the fact that it's just hair! It will grow back. It wasn't even like she had taken a chunk from the top of her head, either. Just a few dainty snips that significantly impacted the overall length of her hair. I knew a short little bob would be the only remedy, but oh, I was sad! I had really, really grown to love her long, beautiful locks. But still...just hair. Here are some before and after photos.

(And I think it's only fair to say that Darren and I are already finding her new 'do to be quite darling. I never would have done it myself had her handiwork not necessitated it...but now I have to admit that I think it really suits her!) :)