Who Wore It Best?


Who Wore It Best? 

Here's my oldest daughter (now 12) back when she was almost 2 years old, wearing the most adorable blue polka-dot dress with matching hat. So adorable! 

Fast forward to my now 2-year-old daughter wearing the same outfit. Too cute for words! 

Loving the multiple benefits of saving clothes as hand-me-downs. My heart delights in seeing my littlest kids wearing the same things their big bro and big sis did a few years back. 

Daughter's Haircut: Before and After


My 12-year-old daughter got a haircut last week. A real haircut, at a salon, where you tip the stylist and everything. It was a first for her!  She is very pleased with it!

Before. Long strands. Tangled easily.

After. Shorter. Super cute. 

Baby Boy Turns 7 Months


Days keep passing by and now baby boy is turning 7 months old! He had his first haircut this month. He looks older, more boyish. 

He is almost all smiles! I've heard more than a dozen times "He's such a happy baby! He is always smiling." I tell folks that he has them fooled :-)  He still loves his mama the most and doesn't want me out of his sight... or the smiles quickly turn to tears! 

One highlight of the past month is the introduction of baby food. I wouldn't say he enjoys the baby food yet, but he's tried green beans, peas, and avocado. He does like sitting in the high chair at the dinner table when we're all together.

This man is mobile, when in his walker. He sits up with a little assistance (a bumbo seat or propped against the side of the playpen). He much prefers being upright to laying on his back or stomach. 

Life is good! Happy 7 months, baby boy!

Four Children


All four children together. 

It's getting harder to get good pictures of all of them. 

But they are adorable in any pose... right?! 

Ag Days


 We enjoyed our local Ag Days last week. This is very kid-friendly way to introduce farm basics. 

We have gone many times before, but this was the first time our Little Miss (age 2) would remember it. She was able to touch goats, sheep, calves, horses and rabbits. And we were able to see ducks, geese, turkeys and more.

On the way out of the building, everyone is provided with a cookie and a carton of milk. Perfect for hungry little ones to end Ag Days on a good note! 

Happy Easter


Happy Easter from our clan to yours! 

Baby Boy Turns 6 Months Old


 Time flies when you're having fun... or when you're an infant! This little man turned 6 months old this week. 

Earlier this month, we had some cool weather. But after being cooped up indoors, we headed out for a walk. Here the little guy was all bundled up for his first walk this year. Since then we've had warmer spring weather and have been spending much more time outside. Yeah! 

Sleepy, sleepy. This little guy keeps me guessing. He has fallen into numerous sleep patterns only to have them not stick for more than couple days.  Now he's back to waking 2-3 hours each night to nurse. And he is not liking his own bed in his own room. He much prefers to be side-by-side with Mom. 

Sporting one of his favorite outfits (ok, ok, it's my favorite and I just assume he likes it as much as I do)

Receiving some cuddles from big brother and...

 sister jumped in the chair with them. 
They love their little bro and he loves them.

Happy Half Birthday, Mr. Man! 
We love you and are so thankful you're a part of our family! 

Kitchen Remodel


We've been busy lately with home improvement projects! The impetus was my mother-in-law's offer to pay for new linoleum in our kitchen. This led to a decision to also paint the walls and ceiling. We also opted to include our dining room with the new flooring. And then we decided to paint our old cabinets as well! Phew-wee! 

I say "we" but this is definitely my husband's project. I help a very small bit... mostly by trying to keep our kids occupied elsewhere! :-) 

Here are a couple photos. 

Here's a BEFORE shot of the dining room floor. It was hard wood but in very poor shape. It had stains that were too old and set to get out. 

while the floor man smoothed out the ridges 

as they tried to measure twice and cut once on the huge roll of flooring

so much brighter
It's a marbled pattern so it will hide dirt well.
It's so much lighter and brighter than what we're used to.

A few shots of the kitchen half of the space.

This was a few years back, when we first moved in
Some of the flowery wallpaper has remained, though we removed most of it

Here you can see the old flooring
It was brown, squares. Stained in numerous places and a few sections missing entirely. Beyond repair.

The floor man patching up the uneven floor.
You can see the flower wallpaper behind the fridge

With the roll of flooring half unrolled.

The flooring installed. The fridge is hanging out in the hallway for a few days while the flooring glue sets. 

My husband working on painting the area behind the fridge, after he removed the wallpaper.

Then we decided to paint the cabinets white while we had the paint out! So here are my cabinets laid bare, no doors! 

So a lot of lightening is going on! With the fresh paint on the walls, the cabinets going from wood finish to white and the flooring a much lighter shade... the rooms look bigger. 

We still plan to gut the kitchen at some point and do a complete remodel. There are some specific things that we'd change (more electric outlets; move fridge and oven so they aren't side by side). But we're not even close to being able to afford that type of project currently... and we've got a bathroom or two that are are higher remodeling priorities. So this is an intermediate step that is much less costly but also produces dramatic results! 

My main work space is getting an uplift and I'm loving that!

Thank you, thank you, thank you 
to my mother-in-law and my hubby! 

Baby Boy Turns 5 Months Old!


My baby boy is 5 months old now. 

What a fun month this has been, as more and more personality is shining through. More smiles, more belly laughs. More kissing those chubby cheeks of his. And more of his "kissing" my face, attacking me with a wide-open mouth! 

He had his first ear infection this month. Boo! 
Sister had one at the same time. Double boo! 
He weighs over 19 and half pounds. 
Sister is less than 30 pounds so at this rate, he may catch up to her in clothes-sizes and diapers. 

We haven't started him on any solid foods yet, but we will do that in this next month. He does sit in the high chair now... just to play with toys and be at the same level as the rest of us when we eat.

This boy still doesn't sleep very well. He is up multiple times every night. He is definitely the most "needy" baby I've had. He also is very much a mama's boy, not willing to be away from me for more than about 5 minutes. But I know this won't last forever and so I try to cherish the loving and the snuggles... and not get too upset about the lack of opportunities to shower or do housework or whatever else is calling out my name. 

It has been beautiful to watch my other children embrace this one. They all have had opportunities to hold him, to entertain him, to notice him watching them and smiling up at them. It's neat to see the individual relationships develop between the siblings. 

We love you, little man! Next milestone... 6 months! 

Sweetest Girl


This little girl, let me tell you, is so super sweet. 
I have said for years (yes, basically her entire life) that she is a delight to have around. I don't know how better to describe life with her. It's truly delightful!

Her smile melts my heart. 
Her little voice is adorable. 
Her vocabulary is incredible. 
Her understanding is quite advanced for her age. 

I don't ever want to forget our conversations. 
"Daddy gone...work...library... in red van." 
"Brother upstairs room... door closed." 
"We go o-op... see friends...Lucy...eat snacks." 
Or her singing bits and pieces of her favorite songs, 
like Jesus Loves Me or Good, Good Father.

This week she's been sick with an ear infection and touch of bronchitis. On top of that, she had an allergic reaction to the antibiotics, so she has hives now. 
It's hard to see her out of her element.

Since little brother joined our family, she's become more maternal. She never used to play with dolls or strollers, but she sure does now!

She's my girly-girl. She loves necklaces and bling. 
She wants her hair brushed out and put up in a cute top ponytail EVERY DAY! 
This is so different than her big sister who doesn't want me to touch her hair EVER! (no joke, she jerks her head away if I even come close to touching her hair)

When big sister was gone to Disney for a week or so, this girl missed her incredibly. She wore an enormous grin when big sister returned... and brought gifts to share too!

I sure do love you, Rosebud! I cannot imagine the smiles and laughter and delight we would be missing if you weren't a part of this family. God gave us a wonderful gift in YOU!

Perspective on Child Stages


Having children spaced out over 12 years allows me a unique perspective. I look back at the parent I was 12 years ago and can see more clearly now what I did right and what I did wrong. I hang my head in shame and have regrets that I parented in certain ways. Yet I can also see the fruit of my parenting and can be proud of the success of other ways/methods.

It feels like I've been given a chance for do-overs, by having my youngest children. Each one offers me another chance to do better, to "get it right," to be the mother I want to be.

One thing I definitely do better at now is having a big picture perspective. I don't get nearly as upset over small things (the spilled glass of milk, for example). 
I hold my tongue more. I extend grace more. 
I value the relationship with my children more than I value being right all the time. I try to live in the moment more and push my kids to the next thing less.

This quote, by an unknown source, sums up my new perspective very well. 
"Each season is sweet in its own way.
Each one will be missed when it's gone.
Don't miss the beauty of the bud while waiting for the blossom. Each stage of a child's life offers us a chance to know him or her better and to grow a little closer. 
Each stage also gives us a chance to grow into a better parent as we learn the lessons they teach us about 
loving unconditionally, living wholeheartedly, 
and giving and receiving grace." 

I've always said that my children are my greatest teachers. I have learned more as a parent than I ever thought I would. 

I'm so glad that God gives us opportunities to keep learning and growing through this life. How boring it would be if we truly "knew it all" at age 18!! But to learn something new as we go, to grow as we grow up... seems to be something significant to this life! 

Daughter to Disney


My oldest daughter. She's 12. She recently had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, thanks to some family friends. 
She got to tag along with them to DisneyWorld! 

Our friends Steve, Michele and Regan also homeschool. We've known them for about five years, through a couple of homeschooling venues. Most often, though, we get together with them at their home or ours just to chat. With Regan being an only child, her parents gave her the option of inviting one friend to accompany the family on their trip. She chose my daughter, partly because she had never been to Disney before and neither had their family. So they all would experience it for the first time together. 

What an incredible offer and amazing gift to my girl! 

They had a wonderful time. They drove, which my daughter enjoyed because she was able to visit new states on the way to Florida. And they stayed overnight at hotels along the way, which all had pools. My girl swims like a fish, any chance she gets, so that was enjoyable. 

At Disney, they experienced all kinds of new things. New foods, fancy dinners at Cinderella's Castle and the Beast's Castle and the Rainforest Cafe. Roller-coaster rides and the monorail. 

I swear that my daughter grew a few inches while she was gone. She is as tall as I am now and will quickly be passing me up. I missed her more than I thought I would. Not only is she a huge helper to me with the younger children, but I missed her sense of humor and her vibrant personality.

She not only seems to have grown a few inches, but has matured a bit too. She handled the trip like a pro. She didn't get lost among the countless throngs of people. She was responsible with her cash and her dumb phone. She stayed away from sweets, so as to not get sick (as she has done before when she overdoes it). She wore her seabands to avoid motion sickness. She purchased age-appropriate gifts for her siblings (so I know she missed us at least a little bit).

I am so thankful to our friends for including her. With our children spaced out as they are, the chances of our family taking a trip to Disney before our oldest is out of the house (ie. within the next 6 years) is very slim. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you, friends! 
Such an over-the-top, incredibly gracious offer this was! 
We are seriously humbled and grateful. 

And welcome back, Bright Eyes!