Monday, December 19, 2011

She's Here!

I woke early in the morning on 12/8 with labor pains that were regular, though 10-15 minutes apart.  I progressed slowly through the morning, hovering between 8 and 10 minutes apart for several hours. The pace picked up quickly right around the kids quiet time though and we headed off to the hospital.  A quick check determined that I was 4.5 cm dilated and we would be staying!  We were quite happy to hear that after a few false starts.

 They didn't have a labor room for me, so we spent a few hours in the small room where they determine if you're actually in labor or not.  My contractions started getting harder and we were having a hard time figuring out how to help me cope.  By the time they moved me to the labor room I had progressed to 7cm and was entering transition.  I asked for an epidural at that point and thankfully the anesthesiologist was right next door. The epidural worked better on one side that the other and never really got a chance to take full effect, 45 minutes later I was ready to push.  8 minutes later our healthy, beautiful baby girl was born!

Named for my sister, Margaret Jade was born at 8:22pm on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.  I had a special devotion to St. Anne during my pregnancy so it seems rather fitting that Mara be born on the day that celebrates Anne's conception of Mary.  Her nickname, Mara, means "Mary" in Hebrew.

She weighed in at 8lbs 5oz, our largest baby by far!   

In the past week and a half she has proven to be a wonderfully cuddly baby, with eyes like deep pools, and the ability to make everyone coo adoringly. 

Her brother and sisters are absolutely enthralled with her.  They're quick to go to her when she cries, and offer help whenever asked. 

Gabe seems especially taken, coming to her several times a day to give her cuddles and kisses saying, "I love you, baby,"

Our parents have been wonderful, coming almost every day to help out as we all adjust to daily life with a newborn.  The frequent lack of sleep can be painful, but mostly we're all just adoring this beautiful gift God has given us.  

How truly blessed we are!

Saturday, December 3, 2011


I apologize for the lack of posting lately, things have been in high gear around here for a while.  Steve and I have spent the last month getting the house ready for the new baby by cleaning, organizing, and doing as much as possible.  My nesting has been in overdrive.  So we've been incredibly productive and have gotten done everything on my To Do list!  I keep finding more things that can be done, but have reached the point where my body is no longer cooperating.  Lately the days have me feeling uncomfortable and quite exhausted. When I do have the energy to do something I've been doing odd little crafts and projects for myself and our home instead of cleaning.  It's nice to take a break from that, since we've done most of it anyway, and do something I enjoy that I know I'll get little chance to do once baby makes her debut.

So, now we wait.  We've had 2 false starts and are feeling very much in limbo but are trying to keep on with the every day, knowing that she'll be here before we know it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


It was rainy and chilly here last night but we ventured out with the kids for some trick or treating.

Silly faces from the crew!

We started off early, heading to our little downtown to walk around the shops.  It was raining fairly steadily at that point so Steve, mom, and I each took a kid under a golf umbrella. 

Kitty cat... very excited to be wearing makeup. 

 Not all the shops were participating so we made the rounds pretty fast.  We decided to take a break and see if the rain would let up so we headed back to the house for a quick pizza dinner.

Captain America!

It was still pretty drizzly when we finished eating so we decided to try our local mall.  As we should have predicted, the entire city seemed to have the same idea and the experience was less than enjoyable. The kids were all troopers though, and took it in stride.  A lollipop seemed to eradicate any dissapointment.

Dora! She actually kept the wig on for most of the night!

Fortunately, at this point, the rain had stopped so we made our way to a larger section of our neighborhood.  We made good use of our car and drove until we found several houses near each other that were handing out candy.  Then we'd all jump down, make the rounds, and pile back into the car.  I can see why people do this every year, regardless of the weather.  Everyone's moods really starting picking up and we all had a great time.  The decorations and lights thrilled the kids and the houses participating were all terrifically nice... and gave out huge handfuls of candy.  The haul the kids got is insane. 
We ended up back at our house around 8:15 and everyone was pooped. One little girl had an especially long and hysterical, though not unexpected, tantrum. Everyone was glad to get cleaned up and into bed for the night.  

Addie's on the left, Gabe's on the right.

We had left our pumpkins and ghost lanterns lit along with a bowl of candy on the front porch while we were gone, but it seemed like it hadn't been touched.

Milk jug lanterns decorated with a sharpie marker, filled with sand, and lit by an electric tea light candle.

We had a total count of one trick-or-treater after we returned home so our candy stash grew even bigger. We're going to have to set some serious limits.

All said and done, we had a great Halloween.  The kids are already talking about what they want to be next year....

Friday, October 28, 2011

Costume Prep

Growing up we frequently made our own costumes using our clothes, our parents clothes, or things from the dress up bin.  I remember going as a 3 legged person one year.  I stuffed one leg of a pair of jeans and pinned on a sock and shoe, then clipped it to my waist with a belt.  To finish off the look I threw on a trench coat and one of my dad's hats.  Imagination can take you places when it comes to Halloween. :)  I'm making the girls costumes this year.  Addie is going as a black cat and Ana is going as Dora the Explorer, no surprise there.  Gabe is going as Captain America, using a costume he received for his birthday with the addition of a small shield.  

For Addie's costume I rounded up a black turtleneck, black velvet skirt, black leggings and shoes.  Pretty standard pieces that she can continue to wear through the fall and winter seasons.  I picked up some chenille boas at AC Moore to make wrist cuffs and a tail that I"ll be finishing up this weekend.  I also grabbed some black and pink felt and sewed a set of cat ears to a black headband following this tutorial.  To finish off the look I'll be painting a cute little nose and whiskers on her face.  

Ana's costume was even easier, being simply a pink shirt, orange shorts, and yellow socks.  I wasn't able to find her a purple backpack, but I don't think she minds.  I made her a little bracelet out of yellow pony beads and hot glued on a little green flower from a hair elastic.  I also made her a wig using this tutorial.  I used black card stock, staples, black felt, and hot glue.  It came together very quickly and looks really cute, if I do say so myself.  It has the added benefit of keeping her head warm if the night turns out to be a little chilly.  

I was able to put both of these costumes together for around $7 total.  (Not including the clothes I purchased at consignment, because those can be worn as regular clothing!)  I think they're super cute and have so much more appeal than store bought costumes. I'm not opposed to them, they can be very cute and we used them the past 2 years.  But their use is very limited and they're expensive (between $15 and $25 each.)  

Now I need to put my own costume together. I'm borrowing an idea from my mom (and some clothing items) that I think will be really cute. No spoilers here, I think this one will speak better with pictures. :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Singing the Truth

Addie finds me leaning over my exercise ball and asks what I'm doing. I tell her that my back hurts and this helps. She starts patting my back to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus, "The sound of your back is hurt, hurt, hurt.  Hurt, hurt, hurt.  Maybe there's a boo boo on your back.  Ooooon yooouuuuur baaaaack."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What we've been up to

We've been very busy lately.  Trying to get the house ready for the new baby, prepping for homeschool, and rearranging our playroom has taken up most of our time for the past month. Yesterday was our first official day of homeschooling.  The kids were excited by the new set up of our playroom and anxious to begin.

Our first day was... interesting.  Ana actually has developed a fever so she was incredibly cranky during that hour.  We also started later in the morning than I had planned on (we had to make an emergency trip out to our restaurant to take in some food supplies that were forgotten in our fridge,)  so snack time came in the middle of work time and it was hard to get everyone back on track afterwards.  Today is a new day though, and I am excited to start again!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

It's a...

Steve couldn't be with me for the ultrasound appointment so I had the technician write the sex of our baby on a piece of paper and put it in an envelope. Later, I dropped it off at a local bakery and asked them to make me a special cake. A simple two layer, round cake, frosted all in white... but hiding a surprise, blue frosting between the layers if our baby is a boy or pink if the baby is a girl! We met our family at our restaurant the next day for the cake cutting. This was such a fun way to find out and celebrate!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Finger Painting

I busted out our vinyl mat and smocks this morning and set the kids up to finger paint. I taped the corners of their paper down and also taped the small paper plates to the mat.  Paint covered fingers get quite slick and everything has a tendency to move around if not properly anchored.

This is messy. So, of course, Gabe loves it.

Ana daintily uses just her fingertips.

Addie smears the paint everywhere then makes designs with her fingernails.

Washing up in the bathroom made as much of a mess as the actual painting.  Lots of little hands splashing and rubbing sent dirty water all over the mirror, walls and floor.  It's just water though, and after wiping it all up the bathroom was cleaner than when we went in.  I'd say that's a plus!

Clean up time meant I wasn't snapping any more pictures, though.  Otherwise you would have seen the paint on the chairs, the chair rail, the door frame, the sink, the bathroom walls, and their clothes. But this is why we use washable paint.  It wipes off with a damp cloth in just a few seconds. I'm all for an activity that causes the house to be cleaner at the end.  It's a good practice of patience and letting things go.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Who needs a nap?

 This afternoon the girls put up a fuss about taking a nap, so we told them they could play quietly in their room. This is what we found when we went to get them.

Passed out together in a fairly smooshed tent.

This never happened when the twins were sharing a room.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Surprise Blessing

I am very happy to announce that we are expecting a baby this December!  We are so blessed by having Addie, Gabe, and Ana in our lives and this baby is such a wonderful gift. Our hearts overflow with love for our children and we are so excited to meet this little butterbean!
Addie and Gabe are especially excited.  They give my belly rubs, pats, and kisses every day saying, "I love you, baby!"  We're reading books about having a new baby in the house but Ana doesn't seem to grasp the idea yet.  Maybe as my belly gets bigger she will start to make a connection.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I've been wanting to do some stamping with the kids for a while, but we haven't had any stamps to work with. We have some sponge shapes but they soak up a ton of paint and are easy to smear.  Today I was looking through my kids craft drawer and came upon a large assortment of foam stickers. I had heard somewhere of these being used as stamps so I decided to give it a go.

I grabbed a handful of craft sticks (bought in packs of 100 at the Dollar Tree) and started applying the stickers. I used glue to help them adhere really well and glued a second layer of sticks on the back for added strength and thickness.

These pictures were obviously taken after our stamping adventure.  We used washable paint that we applied with paintbrushes.  A stamp pad would probably be neater and give a clearer image, but we didn't have any washable stamp pads. Addie loved painting the stamps though and Ana was happy to simply paint with a brush on her paper. It worked out well for us this way.  The images come out well if you don't slop on the paint (definitely don't dip the stamp into paint, it will smear everywhere.)

This was a great activity that everyone, (even Mommy!), really enjoyed doing.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

A New Favorite

We took the kids to a playground this past Saturday.  It was a little out of the way but so worth the drive.  There was a nice sized play structure, a picnic area, a couple of swings, a large sand area (complete with awesome water feature), and the best part... a sprayground.  I had never been to a sprayground before.  I had never even heard of one until a couple of days ago.  But it's awesome.  Really, really awesome.
On stiffling hot days in the summer there is no better way to take the kids out to play and be sure that everyone can cool down, too.  When the parents got too hot we simply sat on the wall around the sprayers and let the wind carry the mist to us.  Heaven!
Aside from the sprayers the most popular activity was the sand and water area.
The stone fountain allows the water to flow like a river down to the sand.
Collecting for a while in the sand, allowing for building castles, making dams, or simply a little foot splashing.
Ana played here for almost the entire two hour visit.  She had a wonderful time!
She did venture out a couple of times to try out the swings. She was too little to use them on her own but found an acceptable solution.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Addie loves to dance. It's rare for a day to pass without her leaping, twirling, and tapping across the floors.  She likes to watch Angelina Ballerina sometimes, too.  Picking up the introduction from that show, she has started asking us to announce her before she dances into the room, "Introducing... Addison Ballerina!"

One day, she picked up one of Ana's blankets and held it in front of her face as she made her own introduction then dropped it immediately after.  Her version of a big reveal.  Ana watched her do this a few times before picking up her other blanket.  She walked up next to her with blanket held high and dropped it down as she joyfully squealed, "ME!"

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Berry Good Morning

We headed out to a U-Pic farm this morning with some friends.  The biggest farm of this kind that I've been to, they have a huge selection of produce.  Currently, you can pick blackberries, blueberries, and tomatoes.  Soon peaches will be available, too. We started with the blackberries first, 
heading down the long rows, marveling at the sheer size of these gorgeous berries.
The twins did really well with picking. They had never eaten blackberries before and were a little unsure at first, until they tasted them... then they were really excited to search the rows.
They did a great job of selective picking and got most of what they picked in their buckets.
Juliana did not have a bucket.  What she found she ate. 
Very excitedly. 
We also picked blueberries but didn't get any pictures. The kids were more interested in eating everything they picked.  They had buckets but never filled them.  They mostly ran giggling around the bushes as they popped berries in their mouths, making occasional pronouncements of, "Dis is yummy!  Bwue-bewwies are my favowite." We ended up with 20 lbs of berries after our hour and a half trip.
We all had a great time and we're now in the process of rationing out our stockpile. Several pounds are chilling in the freezer, some we will eat fresh or with pancakes, and I'm looking forward to making gobs of jam!  Possibly some fruit crisps, too. One thing we're sure of, we will be going back.  Often and with friends.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's Gone!

Steve got home a short time ago and is doing well. It took 3 sessions to remove all of the cancer cells, going down to the cartilage and muscle.  However, they were able to close with stitches instead of a graft so there should be minimal scarring.  He will probably start swelling soon and may develop "raccoon eyes."  He's taken some Tylenol and is sleeping now.  We are so very grateful that everything went as well as it did, he was apparently only one session away from needing a graft.  Thank you to everyone for your prayers!


Steve is having his Mohs surgery this morning.  Depending on how deep the cancer is, the procedure could take several hours.  There will be lots of waiting around between sessions on his part, 45 minutes or more while they determine where, exactly, there are still cancer cells to be removed.  We are praying that it is small. I will post an update once his surgery is over and we have the final results.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Science For Breakfast

This morning cried out for pancakes and bacon.  It happens.  The kids love to help cook and bake so I had Gabe pull up a chair and help put all the ingredients together.  We talked about what was going in the bowl, counted cups and teaspoons, and Gabe gave a sniff test to everything added. He declared that flour smells "dewishous." When the griddle was hot enough I poured on the batter, we watched the bubbles and talked about irreversible change.  Not your typical breakfast conversation, I know.  We can thank Sid the Science Kid for this one.  They watched the "perfect pancake" episode while I finished up cooking and plating. They ate applesauce with their pancakes though we didn't make our own like they do in the show.  That's for next time.

Old Fashion Pancakes

3/4 cup (each) white and whole wheat flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/3 cup milk
1 egg
3 Tbsp applesauce
1 Tbsp veg oil
1/2 tsp vanilla

Whisk dry ingredients together then add wet, whisking until well combined.  Pour 1/4 cup on griddle set at med-low heat, cooking until edges set and bubbles pop without refilling. Flip and cook another 45 seconds - 1 minute until browned.  Yields approx 12 pancakes.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Enjoying the Great Outdoors

While taking a spontaneous joy drive with the kids last week I happened upon a nature preserve.  I had seen the sign on the side of the street before, but had never ventured in to take a look.  The kids were behaving well so I turned in and we set out to see what was there.  We passed a large, attractive picnic shelter and soon found ourselves at a welcome center of sorts, surrounded by mini gardens, wildlife statues, birdbaths, and all number of scampering squirrels.  A little further in was the entrance to the trails, a few of them at just under a mile long.

Feeling excited and adventurous we set out to see the creek at the bottom of the bluffs.

There were many, many stairs to be descended but soon we had reached the bottom and found ourselves surrounded by trees and enveloped in complete shade (a real blessing on these scorching hot days!)

We continued across bridges and boardwalks, looking at different kinds of plants and trees, collecting fallen nuts to offer to squirrels, oohing and aahhing over the creek, and simply enjoying being out in this beautiful area.  Ana got tired of walking eventually and often asked to be carried.  She knows she's hard to resist.

Eventually we completed the trail loop and found ourselves back at the stairs.  We took a break for snacks at one of the decks.

I was so pleased we were able to venture out and try something new. Often times keeping up with my littles in new situations can be frustrating and anxiety riddled.  But this place is perfect for keeping the calm, getting some exercise and fresh air, and simply enjoying their company. I hope to make many trips back this summer.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Bump in the Road

A little over a week ago Steve went to a dermatologist to have a bump removed from his nose. Yesterday we received a call from the doctors office informing us that the results had come back as basal-cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer.

He has surgery scheduled for the end of this month.  He will be receiving Mohs Micrographic surgery, the most effective treatment for basal-cell cancer. There's a very informative video about this treatment on the ACMS (American College of Mohs Surgery) website.  His doctor actually established the Mohs surgery program at Tulane University, serving as it's director for almost a decade.

We will keep everyone posted on his situation and are hoping for the best.  In the mean time, we ask for your prayers, as we pray to the Lord for healing and strength, and pray to St. Peregrine, the patron saint of cancer, for his intercession.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Snack Time

Gabe, after seeing Addie eating crackers: "I want some crakuhs, too.  Wiff peanut buttuh."
Me: "Ok. But I'm only making you two since you just had a rice cake."
Gabe: "Ooooh, tough guy!"

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Just Like Daddy

Almost.  She did it herself!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

How Great Thou Art

The most powerful rendition of this song that I've ever heard

Tuesday, April 26, 2011