Friday, January 27, 2012

Countertop Cuties!!

If I'm in the kitchen...which being a Mom is most of the time...the girls usually want to be right there with me.


Of course their arms outstretch and they start asking to be up on the countertop...


together!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How We Weathered THE Storm!

This is what our tree normally looks like. The lower branches are over 6ft off the ground...Michael can walk under it without having to duck.


This is what it looked like when the snow froze into ice. I was sure some of those branches were going to snap, but they held on tight.


The neighbors tree across the street wasn't so lucky.


It was fun seeing how the icicles were hanging off everything.


It's was really quite beautiful!


Ella and I even broke off some icicles to eat.


After the snow froze we pretty much stayed inside. We visited the ER enough last year so I really didn't want to start this year off making a trip there.


After the snow and ice melted Michael had to take care of the aftermath.


These three trees that were on the side of our driveway all snapped.


They weren't healthy and Michael was wanting to chop them down anyways.


Since they are the kind of trees that have shoots that come up he left the trunks thinking maybe they will eventually fill in again. We'll see! If they don't start filling in we are just going to rip them out. I think this area would make some nice garden space.


Can you say summer campfires!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Baby Update - 20 Weeks!!



The halfway mark is here!

Part of me feels that it's gone fast, but most of me feels like it's taken forever to get to this point. Don't get me wrong I don't want to rush this since it is my last pregnancy. I really enjoy being pregnant normally, but I have to tell you this pregnancy above all the others has had me so worried. I've tried and tried to not freak out and I think I've done a good job, but I still couldn't ever get that tight feeling in my chest to completely go away.

I'm at the best part though...I CAN FINALLY FEEL THE BABY MOVING!!!

This above all is what I've been waiting for. To feel those flips and kicks are so absolutely reassuring to me. I love it!!! This baby is a bit crazy too. There are big gaps in time between the kicks, but when Baby Z is awake and moving I know it.

In regards to my body my back is starting to bother me some. Our insurance covers massage therapy so I have my first appointment on Friday. I'm really looking forward to that and hoping it will help some. I figured since it was my 6th pregnancy I deserved a little professional pampering!

Michael and I still don't have any definite ideas as to the gender...I just can't wait to snuggle and nurse a baby. Doesn't matter to me if it's a boy or a girl. Jack on the other hand is SO convinced it's a girl. In fact he's told Ga-Ga that she's wrong because she thinks it's a boy. I asked him the other day if he would be mad if Baby Z was a boy and he said, "Yeah...it's a girl!" Oh my goodness! Owen also thinks it's a girl, but he's not quite so adamant about it. I think Ella thinks it's a girl because about a week ago I asked her to say hi to the baby and she said, "Hi..." and used the girl name we have picked out. It will be interesting to find out in 20 short weeks!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Dreams!

I thought it would be fun to write down all the things I dream about having or doing right now. Not that I'm not happy with life right now, but because I think it will be fun to look back in a few years and see which ones have actually come true.

- I dream of remodeling our kitchen and playroom into one big kitchen / homework station for the kids.

- I dream of taking the kids to either Disneyland or Disneyworld and seeing the look of wonder in their eyes.

- I dream of getting a bouncy house for the kids so they can bounce, jump and fall as much as they want.

- I dream of going to New York with Michael to see the 9/11 Memorial when it's finished.

- I dream of a day when my kids are all grown and I have hours and hours on end to do nothing, but get crafty!!! Just keepin' it real!

- I dream of remodeling our basement into a studio apartment...first to be used as a school house for the kids and then one day to be used as a place for either set of our parents to live.

- I dream of one day having a house or a cabin on a lake.

- I dream of my children going to college, getting married and making me a grandma one day.

- I dream of growing a vegetable garden so big we can sustain ourselves.

- I dream of having an awesome emergency kit so we'll prepared if the BIG ONE hits.

Okay those are a few of my dreams....what do you dream about?

Fiesty!


This cute almost 2 year old has been throwing me for a loop recently. She is so strong willed and her favorite words are "Mine" and "No". She's also started the hitting phase. My biggest challenges with her are diaper changes, changing her clothes and brushing her teeth. She is fine when Daddy or Ga-Ga change her and she's an absolute terror when I change her. I honestly dread changing her...it's such a battle. I try being lighthearted about it and have fun, but sometimes we just need to get going or I have dinner cooking and I just need to change her poopy diaper now and not mess around.

Yesterday I tried giving her choices that still got the same outcome and that seemed to help. Such as saying, "Ella it's time to change your diaper do you want to lay down on your own or do you want Mama to lay you down?" She did seem to respond better to that. My friend Kim suggested that I read The Strong Willed Child...I thought I had that book, but I think I just borrowed it from the church library and gave it back because it's was an old edition. Currently I'm reading Bringing Up Girls so I think I'll finish that one first and then check out The Strong Willed Child from the library. What I don't want to do is make her feel like she can't be her own person. I want her to have her own opinions and be a strong independent person, but she also needs to understand who the authority figures are in her life and respect them.

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Camera!

On Saturday my Dad and I went shopping for my new camera. I had done a ton of research online prior to going to the store. I was pretty sure I wanted this one camera, but I just needed to get my hands on it. I'm not really an Internet shopper I'm an Internet researcher. When it comes to actually making a purchase I love being able to go to the store, buy it and bring it home. I'm not good with waiting for shipping either!

Anyway online the camera I wanted was on a screamin' sale...I'm talking $110 off the original price. Of course at the store it was the normal price. I was bummed, but figured I'd order it online. Then I asked one of the workers and he was happy to check online and give us that price. YAY!!!



Here's my new beauty! So far from playing around with it I love it. It's got all sorts of features and fun settings. It has a really good rating 4.8 out of 5 stars and I can see why. The zoom is amazing! The manual is pretty basic, but it comes with a DVD I can watch to get more information...this was one of the things that someone complained about. I'm so happy to have a good camera to take pictures with again. I'm lost without a camera! In the words of my Dad, "Let's hope this camera doesn't get "Jacked" anytime soon!" I'm going to do my best make sure of it!

Thanks Dad!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Crusin'!


This boy loves his new bike. He's been riding it around and around the house ever since his birthday. We don't really have that big of a house, but he can fit around tight corners and he takes them pretty fast. Hopefully by the time this posts the weather will have cleared up enough for him to take it for a ride outside!

Side Note: My camera is dead...kaput! Jack dropped it the other day and it would cost almost the same amount as a new camera does to send it in and get it repaired. Right now I'm using my moms camera, but for some reason it has a really hard time taking a picture without it being blurry...note the picture above. But my boys aren't the only ones to have the coolest Dad...mine offered to buy me a new camera!!! Soon I'll be back to my crystal clear picture taking ways!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Crazy Dancers!

video

I was dancing the other day for some reason and Ella started to dance too so I thought I would get it on tape. A few days before this we saw a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode that had this crazy dance that Donald does that involves shaking his tush....Owen loves to shake his tush so it was right up his alley. So happy I got this on tape!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fun With Friends!

video

The other day we had our neighbors Lance & Rachael over for dinner with their two girls. Kendra and Ella have known each other since they were 5 & 3 months old. It's been so much seeing them grow up together. Kendra actually taught Ella how to jump on the couch so I taped them jumping together. They are such cute girls!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Group Hug!


Totally, spontaneous, absolutely, adorable show of affection!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

They Have The Coolest Dad!

After working almost a full day what does he come home and do for his boys? Why build them an igloo of course!!!


There is an episode of Curious George that the boys have seen over and over where George builds an igloo with a friend. Ever since seeing it they've wanted to build one. The snow was perfect packing snow so Michael used one of his old 5 gallon paint buckets and got started.


These boys loved being outside with their Daddy playing and helping.


That's one big igloo!


Here it is after Daddy rounded out some of the edges and filled in all the cracks with snow. Michael said that it was actually starting to get quite warm inside while he was working. In fact when he was inside I was calling his name and he couldn't even hear me....now that's insulation! Now I just hope the rain holds off long enough so the boys can play in it tomorrow!

White Elephant Gift!

Last week our MOPS Leadership Team had our annual Christmas/White Elephant Gift Party. We always have it in January after all the busyness slows down. This year I didn't really have a funny gift on hand since I did that all decluttering last summer. So I decided to get creative and make something I had seen at a White Elephant Gift Party a few years ago. Say hello to....


A Candle Lite Dinner In A Box!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dollar Tree Craft Project!

For a long time I've wanted one of those hanging wire fruit basket, but I didn't want to spend the money on one. What I had in mind was something similar to this...


The other day I was at The Dollar Tree and I happened to notice these baskets.


I bought 3 of them and started figuring out how I was going to turn them into what I envisioned. At first I used black zip ties, but that looked homemade to me and I didn't like it so I started over.


This time I removed two of the handles and then threaded them through the bottom of two of the baskets. Once they were threaded through I rehooked them to the basket portion. I didn't want them to look to perfect so I alternated the handles so they weren't all going the same direction.


I think it turned out good, but to get the full effect I need to get some fruit in it.


Ta Da!! I was going to hang it over by my kitchen sink, but I actually really like it hanging off the end of the pot rack. It's accessible for the kids and I can reach up into the highest basket easily. So for $3 I think it turned out really awesome!

Monday, January 16, 2012

We're Not Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf AKA Owen's 5th Birthday Party!

This years theme for Owen's party was The 3 Little Pigs & The Big Bad Wolf. I was having a hard time figuring out what theme to go with a couple months back and then I read my old book to him for the first time and he fell in love with it...so I ran with the idea.


My old co-workers from Safeco should find this funny. I didn't get rid of ALL my pigs so I used 3 of them for the centerpiece at the food table.


After eating our pigs in a blanket (little smokies in crescent rolls) and wolves in a blanket (roast beef in crescent rolls) it was time to read the storybook. I was worried the kids would be having so much fun playing with toys they don't normally play with that they wouldn't be into this, but they all sat and listened very carefully. It helped that the book is a bit exciting!


After the book it was time for the first game based on the saying, "Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin" in the book. Except the pigs don't have hair on their chin so I thought it would be fun for the kids to try to stick hair on the pigs chin.


Jack giving it a shot. I love how even though Andrew and Kendra are fighting over Evil Dr Porkchop they both took time to stop and watch Jack! Kids are hilarious!!!


The end results were...no chin hair, but Kendra got the closest with getting it in his ear. Her prize was a piggy back she can paint.

Sorry the picture quality stinks. My camera is down for the count so I was borrowing my mom's and I didn't have the setting right. All the other pictures are courtesy of my Dad.
 The next game was what I named "The Huff & Puff"! The kids got to be the big bad wolf and try to blow the pigs house down. Michael cut a hole in a Solo cup and put Hamm from Toy Story in it. Then the kids had to get on their tummies and blow his "house" down. We would put tape on the floor to mark off who blew their house the furthest. Camryn won this game and she got a periscope just like the one that the wolf used in the book to spy on the pigs.

Partygoers!!!


Ga-Ga with Ella Bean!


Kim with Josiah!


Rachael with Lilyann!


Aunt Stephie, Pa & Aunt Becky!


Uncle Ry, Daddy & Mr. Micah!


The birthday boy himself! Sadly he wasn't feeling very good most of the day...hence the lack of pictures of him. He did brighten up for the book, games and cake...although he didn't really eat anything. His cake is the strong brick house that the third little pig built that couldn't be blown down by the big bad wolf. I made it with ice cream sandwiches, crushed Oreos and Cool Whip. It was the easiest and most tasty cake I've ever made!!!


Happy 5th Birthday Buddy!!!

video

Singing to the birthday boy!


Making his wish!


Present time...Owen was opening his present from Jack here. I took Jack to The Dollar Tree and let him pick out a present for Owen all on his own. He picked out a shark that grows in water and a flashlight that Owen can clip on his clothes.


Owen seeing his BIG present from Ga-Ga & Pa.


Cars big boy bike! He's been riding it around the house all day. He's really good too...I don't think those training wheels will be on for long.


Group shot! I love love love how Ella and Kendra (front row in pink) have identical cheeser faces!


Owen playing with his new Leapster 2 from Uncle Ry & Aunt Stephie....the one we got him last year for his birthday bit the dust a few months back. He is loving being able to play it again!

Thank you to all our family and friends that were able to celebrate Owen's 5th Birthday with us!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Happy Birthday To My First Born!!!

5 years ago today Owen Michael came into this world and forever changed mine! He is my strongly opinionated, fiercely driven, overly independent, lover of snuggles, super silly 5 year old!

Best memories of the day so far have to be snuggling in bed with him and singing Happy Birthday first thing this morning. Also when we got out of bed I went over to the window and then said, "Owen what did God give you on your birthday?" Then I opened the blinds really wide and this HUGE smile came across his face when he the snow. He has been praying and praying for at least a month for snow. In the mornings he would look outside and say, "God didn't answer my prayer...I just have to wait" I told him that some times we have to wait a long time to have our prayers answered just like when we prayed for him we had to wait 6 years! To have God answer my sweet little 5 year old's prayer ON HIS BIRTHDAY....now that is super cool!!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Grateful For Trials!

Over the last 2+ years we have gone through SO much in our lives and of course we are still currently going through trials, but I can honestly say that I am truly grateful for the trials that were brought our way. Over two years ago I remember Michael coming home and tell me that he was unemployed. At that moment I couldn't even deal with our new reality! I actually told Michael I couldn't talk about it right then and then I took the kids to IKEA and met a friend. I just needed to get away and digest everything. Just for my records I want to list things out as they happened and how God worked things out for good.

November 2009 - Michael becomes unemployed. We go from a one income family to bringing in no money. Michael feels strongly that this is God's way of opening a new chapter in our lives. I'm 6 months pregnant with Ella and we discover she has an irregular heartbeat. Praise God it wasn't anything that would require surgery and it just fixed itself in the womb!

December 2009 - Michael starts receiving unemployment and I start the process of applying for state assistance. God uses this to humble me and help me understand people in the same situation and have more compassion for them. Michael applies for numerous jobs daily and obtains a job with a Life Insurance Company. It's a self employment/commission based job so Michael continues to receive unemployment while he's learning the ropes and not actually earning income.

January 2010 - Michael is gone on numerous business trips learning the ropes. I hold down the fort at home. When Michael is home he only sees the boys for about a half an hour a day because of his odd working hours.

Feburary  2010 - After praying and talking about what is best for our family, Michael makes the decision to leave the Life Insurance job.  Since the job was a self employment job and he really never made any money, Michael never lost his unemployment income. A week and a half later Ella is born via C-Section. Due to our financial situation we receive a 100% grant from Swedish to cover Ella's birth.

Thankfully during the previous summer of 2009 Michael had quite a few painting jobs for his own business so our nest egg had been built up. Looking back I know that was God preparing us for this time of financial strain. From the beginning we knew that even though Michael being unemployed wasn't ideal we also knew that it was also a gift. How many fathers get to stay home and really be with their kids during these early years? Boys need their Daddy and we knew that this time in their lives was crucial for their development. We in no way took for granted this family time!

March & April 2010 - Michael continued to look for work and put his resume out there. During this time we were just adjusting to our new normal as a family of 5.

May 2010 - I go through a mini breakdown and end up taking Ella with me down to my parents house to have a break.

Summer 2010 - With little advertizing God provides painting jobs for Michael during the summer. During the weeks he works he doesn't apply for unemployment. This ends up making his possible pay for unemployment stretch out longer than it normally would. When Michael wasn't painting he was working on finishing our backyard remodel. We weren't sure if God would call us to sell our house, but we knew that we would need to finish the backyard before we would be able to list it if it came to that. Thankfully God provided for our needs for that as well in the form of a friend being able to provide us with free dirt to fill in the backyard.

August 2010 - Michael has an interview and is hired to do the maintanance work at an elderly care facility in Federal Way. His first day on the job he discovers that the hiring manger lied to him about everything the job entailed. He came home from lunch feeling defeated and we decided it wasn't worth it for our family. Thankfully Michael was booked for the entire month of August with painting work. Michael mentions that it might be worth it for me to start putting my resume out there.

September 2010 - I go to an interview for a job in Bellevue. I ace it and know I've got the job the moment I walk out. I sit in my car and sob! I do not want to leave my babies...especially my nursing 7 month old. After officially receiving the job offer, Michael and I go back and forth over the decision of me going back to work. The only reason Michael wanted me to go back to work was to put him through school furthering his chance of getting a job. In the end Michael discovers that the college classes he was hoping to take online while I was working aren't available online and are only offered during daytime hours. I do not accept the job!

November 2010 - God really shows me first hand how much he has humbled me in regards to accepting state assistance. Michael has been laid off for a year.

Winter 2010-2011 - During this time Michael and I really start to feel like we are stuck in limbo. We aren't going anywhere and unemployment has almost run out. Thankfully God has provided for our financial needs during this time. Not only with our bills, but with anonymous cards filled with gift cards to numerous businesses and blessings from my MOPS family. I beginning to believe the lies that the enemy is telling me about failures from our past...praise God I have wonderful friends that lift me up during this time and speak words of truth to me instead of lies. I start feeling like God wants to add to our family, but feel hindered in regards to our situation. I feel like people will judge us for getting pregnant while Michael is unemployed, but I also don't want it to dictate our family size and the timing of it as well. Michael and I make the decision that he will enlist in The National Guard come April if he hasn't found a job.

January 2011 - In order to help out with our finances I start watching Logan 3 days a week. This really helps ease the strain. Ella has a crazy day that consists of visits to two hospital ER's and an ambulance ride. Michael has a job interview at a job we had long given up on being a possibility.

Feburary 2011 - Michael is offered and accepts the job at the King County Water District #20. Three days later we find out we are expecting our 4th child.

March 2011 - Owen has his own crazy day spent at two different hospital emergency rooms. I start seeing my old therapist to work on a few things as a mom, wife and person.

April 2011 - At 13 weeks pregnant we find out that our baby has died. Even during this time I feel God's presence in my life and know that he is working things out for good.

May 2011 - I have my second D&C. I have quite a few emotional ups and downs during this time. I decide that I might need more than just therapy so I make a doctor's appointment and get put on anti-depressants. The meds work and I actually start having fun with my kids.

Summer 2011 - Still going through the ups and down of losing a baby.

August 2011 - Ella's has a traumatic fall in the front yard that results in another visit to the ER.

September 2011 - Due to Ella's fall, we discover that she has Hydrocephlus and has to have brain surgery. We absolutely feel that the fall was God's way of having us discover her condition before any major damage was done. After talking about what would be best for our family we decided to start trying again to get pregnant. A week and half after I ovulate we know without even taking a test that I'm pregnant. It's confirmed a week later with a pregnancy test.

October 2011 - I'm dealing with the emotions of my due date with Kyan coming up and worrying about my latest pregnancy.

November 2011 - Michael gets his first raise at his job. Every week we continue to get good news in regards to the growth of our baby.

Winter 2011 - During our big ultrasound we find out that the baby is developing wonderfully. We continue to feel God's hands on our family in regards to the safety of our children.

As you can see even though we endured many trials during the last 2+ years there were also blessings as well. The main thing that didn't change was God's presence in our lives. He was ALWAYS there...meeting our needs and lifting us up. I love that God used this time and these situations to strengthen our faith and our testimony to His faithfullness!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ahoy Matey!

One of the things that Owen had been asking for for Christmas was a pirate ship. I searched online for a couple nights reading reviews and found that the one from Playmobil was rated the best. Ga-Ga & Pa got this as Owen's big present. As you can see he was pretty stoked about it!


One cool thing we didn't know about it...or I didn't remember was that it actually floats. In fact you can go online and order a motor for it as well. We aren't going to get that crazy, but it's still pretty cool.


Owen had been asking for a long time to take it in the tub. I didn't really want to go there with it since I didn't want the stickers to come off from getting wet or deal with water getting in all the nooks and crannies and possibly getting moldy, but I finally gave in and told Owen that he could ask Daddy when he came home. Michael was fine with it and I told him it was his deal. The boys spent forever in the tub with it. They did learn early on that you can't turn the ships cargo hold into a swimming pool for the pirates or the boat will roll over, but after they figured that out they were good to go.