Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter 2014

We had a very casual and relaxing Easter celebration this year.  I think, primarily because although I was prepared spiritually for Easter, the whole basket, eggs and that part of Easter sort of snuck up on me.  But it's also because that's how I like to have my holidays these days.  I'm more focused on the meaning of the holidays being celebrated, people and the quality time together than stressing about the presentation. 

My boys love holiday traditions, so we dye eggs every year.  This year life was really busy the week before Easter (my boys did not have Spring Break but Grace did) so we waited until the last minute and dyed our eggs on Saturday.  I asked the boys to get dressed and for John to do his hair first and they refused.  So here they are dying eggs in their pjs...

I buy the cheapest dozen eggs I can find to use for our Easter eggs because I buy the commercially available dye kits and I don't want to eat eggs that have been soaked in vinegar and whatever chemicals make up Easter egg dye. 

The boys each dye six eggs.  This year we tried to get fancy and made spiderman eggs (1/2 blue and 1/2 red).  But otherwise they don't like to get too decorative.  The eggs then sit in the fridge until I remember to toss them.  I think every year I should investigate natural egg dyes so I could use my pasture raised eggs but I'm the only one who eats hard boiled eggs and 12 in a week is just too much for me.

Easter morning the boys get up and look for their Easter baskets and the eggs.  Here they are waiting for me to get my first cup of coffee and again they are in pjs and John didn't comb his hair (even though I tell them before I take the picture that they will be posted on my blog which is read by at least 10 people).

A few years ago I hid the eggs without Mark's help and then couldn't remember where the last ones were.  Seriously, how pathetic is that.  So now I wait for Mark and we do it together, so there's a witness.  This is where Mark hides eggs.

After the egg hunt, we went to a great Easter service at church.  When I went to pick Luke and Grace up from their room, Luke showed me how loose his front tooth was.  It was so crooked and sideways it started to freak him out.  So I got a tissue and pulled it, right there in church.  Well, I was holding Grace's hand and trying to calm Luke down so I could pull his tooth.  Grace decided she had had enough of being at church and dropped my hand.  In the split second it took me to pull Luke's tooth, Grace disappeared.  I mean really, she was gone.  I lost her.  The lobby was so full and she was just gone.  I told Luke and John to come with me and we began to look for her.  It was crazy.  No one could find her.  All of the sudden Mark said, we got her.  She was outside.  Grace had walked out the door and was headed to the parking lot when a sweet friend's daughter caught up to her.  I don't have many parenting fears but this is my biggest one regarding Grace.  I fear that I will loose her in public and because she looks so typical, she will get lost or injured because she walked away from me.  Thankfully, she was okay but I was pretty shaken up about it.

Here's Luke's new gap toothed smile.  He is so happy to finally have lost another tooth.  He kept it to show one of my friends because she hates loose and wiggly teeth.

After church we went to my parents house and had Easter dinner.  My parents still live in the house I was raised in and I just love going 'home' for holidays.  My mom and dad hid eggs in  their back yard for the kids to find and as a result of all the candy, my boys didn't really eat anything for lunch.  I tried to get a cousins picture, even though there were only 4 out of 6 cousins present.  It didn't really work out.  Here's the best of the bunch, if you can believe it.

However, I did get a super sweet one of my three after church before lunch.  Even though Grace is the only one who is smiling her real smile, I love it.

I hope you and your family had a blessed Easter and that you were able to keep these words from the gospel of Mark in mind as you celebrated this day. 

 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, 
who was crucified.  He has risen! He is not here.  See the place where they laid him.   
But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. 
There you will see him, just as he told you.’”


Monday, March 24, 2014

checking in and catching up...

Well hello, there.  I've been thinking of blogging for weeks but just haven't.  I took a mini-break on purpose and then just never came back.  I've been trying to get a sense of what I want this blog to be and I think I've figured it out.  So I'm going to get back on track here with a pictorial update of what we've been up to since I last blogged.

The month of February was not a good one for me.  It was cold and snowy, the kids were never in school, Grace was sick and I was super busy but felt like I didn't get anything accomplished.  My friend Jamye said it best in this post.  The month started with Mark away for a nine day business trip.  Which reinforced my thought that I don't want to be a single-mom.  So I told him I'd kill him if he ever died and left me alone, to which he said 'that makes perfect sense.'.  You gotta love a man who knows when to agree with his crazy wife.

 We lost power for 36 hours during one of the storms and it was while our friends were 
visiting, here's a picture of the crew that slept by the fire.  The rest of us slept upstairs, 
and it was close to 45 degrees in the morning inside.

 Evidence of our crazy weather!  John was in shorts playing basketball while Luke was
 in his snow pants playing in the snow.

 Luke practicing the skeleton on the driveway.

 John found good use for the eternal snow on the ground.  He played snow baseball with the neighbor.

One of my best friends and her family stayed with us for a while, well actually she stayed for a whole month.  It was awesome.  Sort of like being back in college, but without all the angst and drama over boys, school and other nonsense.  We spent every night on the couch watching the Olympics and talking.  We both liked to know the outcome of the events we were watching before we saw the coverage so we would google the results and then we were able to just hang out and not really focus on the events.  It was so great to have her here and I really miss her.  Which we've decided is the sign of a great friendship! 

 We dog sat my parents dog and Grace loved having a dog in the house.  She would follow 
Sam around and then pet her.  It was adorable.

 But not nearly as adorable as John and Same.  They LOVE each other - 
this was the day they had to say goodbye...

I was able to sneak away to the beach for an overnight to recharge.  
I love, love being at the beach.  It was way too short, but super nice to get away for a little while.

I was privileged to give a talk at a local MOPS chapter.  It was actually the MOPS I attended when I first became a mom so it was fun to be back as a presenter.  My talk is called The Gift of Grace, which is where my blog title comes from.  This was the fourth time I have given this same talk and I just realized that I don't have it on my blog.  I'll have to change that soon.

This cutie turned 10 in February and got a surprise dessert from his favorite mexican restaurant.  

This cutie lost her two front teeth and couldn't look cuter if she tried...

I've put some random pictures from my phone on this post because I don't like a post without pictures and none of the pictures warranted their own post.  Plus, I just spent an hour looking at pictures instead of cleaning my house. So, in order to feel like I accomplished something today, I added pictures.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

snow days...

I started this post back in January.  It is funny to think that it is mid February and my kids haven't celebrated the 100th day of school yet.  Well, maybe not funny but ironic at least...

We, like everyone else, have had a lot more snow and therefore snow days than last year.  The kids are loving it!  Me, notsomuch.  I'm over it.  I'm over the cold and the shoveling.  But the snow does make for some great pictures of the kids...

Sister hates to be cold and go outside in the snow.  But this day we decided it was an all family work day and everyone had to go outside to shovel the snow.  So she spent a long time in our garage (pay no attention to the mess and trash behind her).  You can tell by the Spider-Man boots, Lightening McQueen hat and blue winter coat that she has older brothers.  Grace worked up the courage to walk out of the garage and into the snow after about a half hour.  She actually starting smiling and seemed to like walking in the snow.

We are, of course, expecting another storm this week.  It is predicted to be the biggest storm of this season, which has the boys excited because last week's ice storm was no fun.  We lost power for 36 hours and it was too cold to go outside to play.  My friends and I have decided that a June with no kids (because they are all still in school) is our reward for a winter of snow days...


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

celebrating {again}...

Happy Birthday John!!!

Our sweet, compassionate, kind and sometimes silly oldest child turned ten {10} over the weekend.  He was super excited for his birthday and we were super excited to celebrate with him.

He asked for (and got) a new iPod touch.  We haven't spoken to him since he got it.  I'm kidding.  Sort of.  We went to the apple store at the mall on the premise that something was wrong with my phone.  When we got there, I arranged for one of the guys to walk up to him and say 'Happy Birthday, John' and hand him the iPod.  It was so funny to see his face.  I wish I had taken a picture but I had all three kids with me and was sort of disorganized.  But anyway, he loved it.  He kept saying I can't believe you tricked me like that.

When I asked him to hold up ten fingers to show me how old he was, this is the face he made.  It is similar to the face he made when presented with the iPod at the store.  

We went out to lunch at his favorite Mexican Restaurant after church on Sunday.  He ate so much that he couldn't eat the free birthday ice cream they brought him.  Then we made cupcakes to bring to school on Monday.  Since we had to make sure they were okay to give to his friends, I got a picture of him blowing out the candle.

Since I'm all about celebrating birthdays, everyone gets a candle in their cupcake.  The kids love it and I make them wait to blow out the candle so I can get a picture.  Here is a sweet friend visiting us from Hong Kong, she thought it was a hoot that she got a birthday candle too.

We had a great time celebrating John's birthday.  I'm so happy to be his mom and I love watching him grow and develop into the man God has created him to be.  One of my favorite verses that I pray over both my boys is from Micah 6:8, I like the New King James version the best.

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Happy Birthday John!  Mom and Dad love you more than you will ever know.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

herbal essence naked collection review

I just realized I wrote this post last week and never published it.  It is my follow up / review of the Herbal Essence Naked Collection I was given to try.

 Herbal Essences Naked

Back in December, I was given the chance to review the new Herbal Essence Naked Collection.  I wrote this post about ordering it exclusively at Walmart.com.

I have now used this product for a few weeks and really like the way it works with my hair.  I am very careful what I use on my hair and had been using a 'no-poo' type shampoo that was working great and then it wasn't.  So the time frame of being given the Herbal Essence Naked Collection to try was perfect.  This collection is great to use because it has  no heavy residues, is paraben-free and doesn't contain any dyes.  I liked the way it smelled fresh and clean.  It also rinsed out really easily, which is sometimes hard with my thick hair.  It left my hair smelling great and easy to style.

Overall, although I don't need a volumizing product, I really like this new shampoo.  I recommend you try this product if you are looking for a new clean product for your hair.

Check out this video, which I can't get to imbed for some reason, for more info on the Herbal Essence Naked Collection.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

happy birthday grace...

My sweet, funny girl had a birthday on Sunday.  Grace is now 7 years old. 

She spent the morning at church, as she does pretty much most Sundays, and then we just hung out at home.  Everyone at church asked me if we were having a party for her.  I felt bad saying no.  But the reality is, we don't.  Grace doesn't know or understand that it is her birthday and frankly, it is too emotional {read depressing} for me.  It just reinforces how far from a typical 7 year old she really is.

We do have brownies to celebrate her birthday.  She even gets one with a number candle in it.  This year she didn't want the brownie in front of her when we sang to her but she stared at the flame the whole time.  Then her brothers fought over who got to eat her brownie.  So Mark settled the deal by eating it.

I wrote this post last year about her previous birthdays.  And it's a great summary of her birthdays...

Happy Birthday to my amazing daughter.  Mommy and Daddy love you more than you will ever know...


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

happy birthday luke...

Happy 8th Birthday Luke!!! 

Our sweet, funny, lovable middle child turned eight on New Year's Day.  I'm sure I say this all the time but I can't believe I've gotten to be this amazing child's mom for the past eight years.  I'm pretty sure it was just the other day that we got his referral and then brought him home from Guatemala.  Actually, yesterday marked the 7 year anniversary of Luke's referral.  I still remember the day because Mark was at work when we got the email with his pictures and the agency Director called to talk with me about the baby.  She asked if I was going to wait for Mark to get home to open the email and I said "why would I do that?'.  Evidently, some couples liked to look at their potential baby's picture together.  Not me, I couldn't get to the computer fast enough to see him.

Click on these links to see Luke's birthday posts from years past, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and a second 2010 post.   I can't believe how much he has grown up, someone make him stop! 

We had friends over for New Year's Eve and this year we did not let the kids stay up till midnight.  Instead, we celebrated Luke's birthday about 9:30 and then everyone went home or off to see the mushroom drop.  It was so fun to have friends with us to celebrate the end of 2013.

Luke continues to be fascinated/obsessed with Spider-man so it was a very Spider-Man birthday.  Which coming on the heels of a very Spider-man Christmas, makes our house overflowing with your friendly neighborhood web-slinger.

I busted out my cake decorating skills and made him a Spider-man cake this year.  It's not the greatest picture but it was fun to make and decorate a cake.  I almost wish I could do it again, since now I know how to make all those stars that make up the face much better.  But John has asked for a store bought cake for his birthday next month.  So let me know if anyone has a Spider-man loving boy (or man) in their life and I'd be happy to do one for you.

Having a birthday this close to Christmas means that there is a lot of celebrating to be packed into a very short period of time.  We had hardly recovered from Christmas when Luke's birthday presents began showing up in the mail.  Thankfully, I have learned from years past and do his birthday and Christmas shopping all at the same time. 

Our kids went back to school on the 2nd, so Luke took Spider-man cupcakes and  Spider-man plates & napkins in to celebrate with his friends.  Because, you just can't have enough Spider-man in your life...

So for the price of a picture, the boys had cupcakes for dessert on Thursday after eating cake all day Wednesday.  I think it was pretty fair trade based on these fake cute smiles.  And, yes everyone gets a candle to blow out at our house.  That's just how a party should be, don't you think...