Merry Christmas!


Adorable kids in Christmas hats sharing:

Merry Christmas to all, from our family to yours!

Christmas Visits


We've entertained a lot of visitors in recent weeks. 
'Tis that season!

My college roommate and friend Leah visited with 4 of her children one morning. We have an annual tradition of getting together to decorate Christmas cookies. 

This was my daughter helping make cookies to decorate with our friends. She was very excited to help with this and was actually quite helpful. We were a good cookie-making team!

Here Leah made the frosting glaze while our little girls looked on intently.  

Lots of fun decorating cookies together and, of course, eating some as well.

Then on my daughter's birthday - as she turned 5 - we invited her friend Addie over, who shares the exact same birthday! The girls played dress up together and also decorated Christmas cookies. 

Everyone had fun with new shimmering Do-Dots. Between my 3 little people, Addie and her little brother, it felt like we were teaching a PreSchool class that day.

We also had my daughter's friend (and nextdoor neighbor) Jolene over for a playdate and more cookie decorating.

We've continued to host a weekly small group in our home on Thursday nights. Last Saturday we had all those families over for brunch. This picture shows one of our small group families, with their 8 children!

Here's our family room set up for all 24 people!

And we hosted my husband's side of the family for Thanksgiving in November and will host them again for Christmas this weekend. 

The holidays mean visitors and hosting. I love that we can open up our home for events like all of these. God has blessed us with space to host big groups of people and we are the ones who are blessed as we invite others in and do life together!

Visit to Indianapolis


As an early Christmas gift for our entire family, we headed to Indianapolis for a few days.

Since it is very rare for us, the kids get very excited about such a simple thing as a hotel stay. And our hotel had a pool (a very important criterion for choosing a hotel, according to my children). The one other must-have is a free breakfast!

I took my oldest 2 children to a concert, which was the primary reason for us taking this mini-vacation. 

We saw The Piano Guys in concert and it was stellar! 

We are big fans of this group, with their piano and cello music being our go-to playlist. 

Back at the hotel, the little ones played with toys we'd brought along to keep them busy in the hotel room. And they were able to stay on their regular sleep schedules. 

Little getaways are a great idea. However, the reality of a getaway with so many small children is more difficult than our imagined experience. :-)

Happy 5th Birthday to my little girl!


My little girl is turning 5! 

She is my girly girl. She loves dressing up, wearing necklaces and having her hair done up pretty.

This girl loves the month of December since it means birthdays and Christmas! She's been waiting since September!

I hope she and her older sister have a strong bond as they grow up. I never had a sister, so in some ways I envy the bond that they can share. 

Whenever possible, little sister requests that big sister paint her face, "to make me pretty." 

But for being so girly, she also loves to play outside and doesn't mind getting dirty. 

In the last year she has become great friends with next-door neighbor Jolene.

She loves to play with our pet bird.

And she has a passion for school and learning to read!

She also loves to help me in the kitchen.

Happy birthday, big girl! 
I'm so thankful God gave you to our family. 
You bring us great joy!

Christmas Train Ride


A Christmas Train Ride 

My sister-in-law Sheila discovered a nearby train station that runs a Christmas Train Ride during the month of December. The caboose can be rented out for a 2-hour party. She gave this train ride as a birthday gift a few years ago to my son and he LOVED IT! He has requested it every year since and this year it happened... again!

So fun to ride on a train! There's a max of 15 people, which works well for our family plus another few aunts, uncles and cousins. 

It's basically at 45 minute ride, a brief stop to turn the engine around and a 45 minute ride back to where we started.

Aunt Sheila brings along cupcakes and snacks for the trip. Yummy! 

It was a cold but rainy day for our ride.

Thanks, Aunt Sheila, for the train ride - a gift the entire family gets to enjoy!

Happy Birthday, My Son!


My oldest boy is turning 11! 

He is all boy, full of energy and spunk.

He loves to be outside, whether biking or digging or climbing trees. 

Happy birthday, son!

Sunroom Make Over


My oldest daughter and I recently took on a BIG project. We have spent nearly 100 hours over the last few months transforming our sunroom into a family room. 

A few before pictures...

The room was just wood paneling, left untouched since the 1960s. There are 12 windows that are old and inefficient, but we couldn't afford to replace them all at this time. 

The flooring was 1960s tile and contained asbestos. 

Very first step - replace a section of the wood paneling that was water-damaged. Here is my daughter ripping out the old and then a shot of the new piece in place, prior to painting.

First steps - removing all curtain rods, face plates, trim and vent covers. Then priming the walls white. Such a drastic change from the wood color.

My daughter chose the color scheme. It was an exciting day to put this beautiful blue color on the walls! 

Then we painted two walls gray and painted all the wood trim around the windows white. This was very tedious work that took many, many hours. 

Next came a big step of installing new flooring. We covered over the asbestos tile with hardibacker cement board. 

On top of that we laid carpet tiles. What an improvement!

We went with a "coastal" theme with these decorations and accents... lanterns, sea shells and star fish, boat oars and a Be Still/ocean waves sign that we created with our accent color.

My daughter created these three canvas paintings using the two wall colors plus our brighter blue accent color. So easy and yet so cool! They look great on this one short wall.

We installed baseboard and corner trim, along with a coat rack / mudroom space, which completed the room. 

The room is now usable space! A lot of work went into the room but it is a joy now to use the room as more than a walk-through to the garage. The colors delight me and remind me of a summer day at the beach! 

When funds permit we'll put some kind of window treatments up and finish up some decorative touches. 

We kept this make-over a secret from our extended family, surprising them at Thanksgiving when they walked out to the usual "dining room" for our big group to find the room was redone and so lovely. 

Good work, dear daughter! It's been suggested that this girl might have a future in interior design :-)  I considered this a bit of our homeschool curriculum, to give her a chance to learn some new skills, to work hard to complete a long-term project and try her hand at some creative decorating. And our entire family benefits from the transformation of this room from trashy, wasted space to a comfy and cozy room that we all enjoy now!