"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Princess Shaka-laka-lace

…or what 3 baby has been dubbed by big sister Isla!

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Because we are having another little GIRL Smile.

We could use some girl sibling name suggestions because I feel like we have exhausted our awesome girl name supply! I think we will wait until she is born to settle on a name, but we would love have a nice short list before we go into the hospital as we have done with our two other girlies. So please, suggest away! One things we are fairly confident about, her middle name will be Patricia after my Aunt Pat, whom Nick and I both dearly loved.

In the meantime, we will refer to her as Princess Shaka or Baby Shaka!

I cannot believe that we will have THREE GIRLS! Nick is so thrilled to have 3 little princesses to be a hero too… he is less thrilled about paying for three weddings, haha. (Nick: Three small weddings!) I am humbled that we have been chosen to help 3 precious little girls grow into smart, strong, confident women. I know that the Lord has big things planned for our Princess Shaka!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Birthday Festivities

So, Isla’s birthday fell on Easter week this year! Two years ago it actually fell on Orthodox Easter. I think that there is a good chance her birthday will orbit Easter for the rest of her life. I am beginning to see why people hate to share their birthdays with holidays because there was just so much happening and it was tiring! Plus at Isla’s age I didn’t want her to confuse the importance of Easter, but thankfully I don’t think that that happened.

Anyway, as I’ve said, Isla was sick on her birthday. I didn’t have a whole lot planned for the actual day because we had planned to have her Easter party at school so I knew she would be getting a lot of sugar. Her party was that weekend and we had planned to take cupcakes to her school the following Tuesday.

Once she got sick, I tried to make it a little more special. First I let her pick what she wanted for breakfast and she requested pancakes with sprinkles. I was worried that they would come back up, but thankfully she was done with that part of the illness.

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Then Nick and I let her open up two of her presents. All in all we bought her 4 bean bags, a scooter with a helmet, an Anna (Frozen) doll, and a giant floor map puzzle. That day we let her open her map and her Anna doll. I had gone to Target to let Isla pick out which helmet she wanted and by the time I got back to buy it, it was sold out. I couldn’t find it online but thankfully my MIL found it at her Target so she was bringing it later.

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Also, her birthday shirt came in on her birthday and she was so excited! This was a really fun thing to do and I want to make this an annual tradition. Her birthday shirt said 4 in a Clifford the Big Red Dog fabric with her name embroidered on it. Here she is modeling it! I bought it from AddiesKakesKreations on Etsy.

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By Friday both my mom and Nick’s parents had arrived so we let her open the rest of her presents from us and from them. I don’t have pictures of it, but my mom bought Isla an Elsa doll, and Nick’s parents spoiled her with a girly train set, doll clothes and several other things.

Saturday was party day! Isla had request a Clifford the Big Red Dog party at Chuck E Cheese. Smile It was easy and fun to put together, and we invited her favorite friends from school, our neighbors and her besties, Kaylinn and Hannah. Gabby was out of town and couldn’t be there. Chuck E Cheese lets you bring in all of your own decorations if you want to except your own drink cups. I kept it simple, simple. I just ordered cupcakes (white on white) from HEB (I didn’t want any red frosting after Isla’s “Fire Booty” incident last year) and bought Clifford themed cupcake toppers and liners. The decorations were Clifford themed mylar balloon, napkins, plates, and red tablecloths. We also had hats and goody bags for the guest. The goody bags contained playdo with a dog bone cookie cutter, a Clifford pencil, candy… and something else that I forgot.

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Isla got to take her guitar up and rock out with Chuck E and she also got to get into the ticket blaster. She wanted her dad to join her though! I was jealous… that looks like FUN!

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We forgot our good camera, so the only pictures I have are from my iPhone and not very good. There’s not much to say other than the kids ran around, danced with Chuck E Cheese and generally had a really fun time!

The birthday queen in her crown.

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And finally her school celebration! I have a summer birthday and I never got to bring cupcakes or anything to school to celebrate… so you better believe I am living through my children Smile. It was really simple. I had planned to make cupcakes with Isla but we just ran out of time. Instead I just picked up some ready made cupcakes at HEB and it worked just as well. It was very cute and I hope to get to do this each year! We also did it one week late since her birthday fell on the same day at the Easter party and I didn’t want any of the small kids to confuse the two.

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I decided to get some red ones since that’s Isla’s favorite color and there wasn’t too much icing and she did great! No adverse reactions… thank goodness for all parties involved Smile.

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And that’s it! We are pretty crazy about our little 4 year old. I am so glad that we were able to give her a party that she loved. She is so special to us each and every day, but its fun to celebrate her in a special way sometimes!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Easter 2014

“And if Christ has not been raised [from the dead], then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.” 1 Corinthians 15:14

Its kind of a trend right now to celebrate every single holiday to the max. People do things that I would never think of, like make green milk for your kids on St Patty’s day and have a Valentine’s tree.  I follow a blog where this girl decorates her house with a new theme, every single month.  And I am not talking just puts out a few seasonal candles or maybe has a little niche that she redecorates… every room in the house gets blinged out! I actually think this trend is kind of fun. When I read the Pentateuch and God is handing out the law and customs to the 12 tribes, I am always BLOWN AWAY by all of the holidays and festivals. There are so many reasons to celebrate! Of course each one is designed to draw them closer to the Lord, but still… I think God wants us to be celebratory people, and I love and am thankful to HIM that we have enough in our country that we can celebrate abundantly.

The things is, as much as I would love to be a Pinterest queen, I am not. I get completely overwhelmed half the time just providing my kids with a reasonable amount of stimulation and keeping my house from looking like a disaster, let alone getting up two hours early on random holidays to plan special things for them. I did decide a while back that Christian holidays, Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving deserve a little extra attention from me. And then while thinking about what to do for Easter, I thought… if my entire faith is based on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and without these events my faith would be in vain… maybe I should REALLY go all out on Easter AND make it clear to my kids that this is a BIG DEAL!!! I want to start accumulating Easter decorations although I am kind of picky and I didn’t find much that wasn’t either too baby or too kitschy or Pottery Barn and therefor too expensive.

Thankfully Isla is in a Awanas, a Christian preschool and also has our church Sunday school so she has been hearing about the resurrection from many different sources and we have had some very interesting conversations. Isla generally says things along the lines of “Jesus died on the cross, but we don’t have to be sad because he rose again, right?” That’s right!

She also thinks that people rise from the dead too! I have always planned to be open with my kids about death and so I have never tried to avoid a conversation about if it came up naturally. She keeps asking if my Aunt Jean is going to rise from the dead as she saw her body at the funeral, and we have had many conversations about death. The concept of death scares her and she told me doesn’t want to die and was very upset. I didn’t think she would grasp that so quickly so instead I try to focus on the fact that we will live here on this earth and then we will live forever with Jesus in heaven, as long as we love and obey him on this earth, and that Aunt Jean is alive in heaven with Jesus. That seems to comfort her (me too!).

My personal favorite conversation is this one though “I’m not too sad Jesus died on the cross because he rose again. Now he lives in my heart! (pause) Too bad Jesus and God don’t live at church!”

Haha. I think she’s maybe a little young to get into conversations about God’s omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence though so I just kind of let that one slide…

Well anyway, Isla’s birth was Easter week and so between Easter things and birthday things we had a full week! And then of course Isla got sick! And then Gemma got just as sick, so all of my best laid plans for going gangbusters over Easter kind of fell by the wayside. However, I do think that we had nice Easter celebrations.

The first Easter activity planned was Isla’s Easter party at school… which she was sick for. I was the chairperson for the party so I still had to go and set up and drop off supplies so Nick came home and watched the girls for an hour since he only works 5 minutes away. Her teacher gathered up some eggs during their egg hunt for me to take home to Isla, which was very sweet.

The end result was this! But I didn’t stay for the party… just set up and then got home to my sick birthday girl and Gemma.

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The place where I really feel like I dropped the ball was on preEaster activities; I had several planned but with the sickness we didn’t get to all of them.  However we did decorate Easter cookies and we got halfway through decorating eggs. My plan was to let Isla color on the eggs with crayons and then dye them… well we only colored on them with crayons. We just ran out of time, and I also don’t have any pictures of them. Hopefully next year we won’t have the double distractions of birthday activities and sickness to take away from our Easter extravaganza! My friend and another blog I follow did “Resurrection Eggs” which are like an Easter advent calendar and I would really like to try that next year.

Thankfully I had prepared Easter basket things in March so that wasn’t sidelined by sickness.

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Aren’t their Easter baskets cute??? I bought them on Etsy from LEmbroideryandDesign.

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I filled them with activity books, silly straws, candy jewelry, a slinky, one chocolate bunny and Easter books. I also bought Isla a butterfly habitat and Gemma a lady bug habitat where you send off for the larvae and caterpillars… that one was just as much for mommy as it was for the girls Smile. It will be a fun spring/summer activity to watch them grow.IMG_2713IMG_2705

Isla has heard about the Easter bunny from a lot of sources, but I just kind of downplayed it since its not even remotely a Christian or religious thing. However before she went to bed she told me that “Santa Claus is going to come down the chimney and fill our Easter baskets with toys!” HA!

We also did an Easter egg hunt on Sunday morning. We had my mom and Nick’s parents here and I wasn’t great about taking pictures since everyone was taking pictures, but here are two. My MIL gave me the best idea to fill them with Teddy Grahams and Goldfish so that they could still have a treat since these are not common foods around our house, but not a completely sugar laden treat and could eat them immediately. Gemma didn’t really get what it was about, but we made sure she received some eggs. Also she dressed herself in that tutu… she is SO girly!

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I am completely ashamed to say that we did not make it to church… and we have NO good excuses but let me give some anyway… we were exhausted after the illnesses and Isla’s birthday stuff, church started earlier than usual and we have a hard enough time getting our things together on Sunday mornings with just the four of us, let alone us plus three other adults, Nick’s parents were leaving that morning and we didn’t want to rush them off, I blame Nick for not taking more initiative, I blame myself for not being better organized, there wasn’t a pre Easter service which is what we normally do to avoid the crowds, we knew our church would be packed and we didn’t want to deal with it… blah, blah, blah. I am totally ashamed, but this is the last year we will miss Easter service!

And of course I comfort myself over missing Easter service with this:

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” ~Romans 8:1

HA!

But seriously folks, Happy Easter! Sin and death were conquered that day by our merciful father in heaven. Its one of the best days of the year and I hope that we are able to celebrate it in joy every single year. Smile

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Isla France is 4 Years Old!`

Yes, my beautiful baby girl is FOUR!

Poor Isla woke up the 14th with a fever and throwing up, and it lasted through her birthday! I should have known something was up when she slept until 9, and then followed me around telling me she loved me for over an hour… but I didn’t realize until I went to help her get dressed after breakfast. Her temperature got up to almost 103! That’s no fun. It meant she had to miss her Easter party at school too, which was a bummer. She spent most of the 14th and 15th watching Frozen and taking a THREE HOUR nap, which is unheard of for Isla at this point.

Buried under her comforter, watching Frozen!

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Poor sick, baby. Kids are always so sweet when they are sick!

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I am going to try to keep this short, but brevity is not my strong point so I will do my best.

Personality

Isla is a very likeable little girl. She has a sunshiny personality and makes friends where ever she goes! There have been a few times at the library she has come up to me and said that so-and-so wouldn’t play with her and that made her sad, but generally I can count on her to make friends. Also she is just FUN! I love her FUN personality. We call her the NEW bubbles on champagne!

Lately, I really feel like I have a much better grasp on her personality, partly because she is able to talk about more complex things. She has always been very verbal and a good talker, but now she can talk about ideas and describe more places than before. I used to think of Isla as strong-willed, but I am realizing more and more that she is not at all strong willed. I think I was mistaking “uncontrollable” for strong-willed. She is actually pretty go with the flow and if I say she cannot have something or change plans, she is ok with it. Sometimes she will ask “ok, but can I have it tomorrow?” but if the answer is no, she’s usually ok. She is not a tantrum thrower.

However she is a little force of nature. It’s hilarious, when its not distressing, to me that I am parenting a daughter who is so different from me. I’m very type-A, she’s very type-B. I’m very low energy, she is very active, I am an introvert, she is most definitely an extrovert… I am trying hard to not impose my personality on her whenever possible, but sometimes its hard, and I mess up.

Isla’s activity level is usually where I struggle the most. I’m so glad that I have my mom as a witness, but it can be very challenging to corral someone with SO MUCH ENERGY and SO MANY IDEAS! Some days I feel like I all I do is say/scream “NO ISLA! STOP!” before she gets into some new mischief. To top it off, she is very clumsy and rough. She has a good heart, but she can really hurt her friends or Gemma. She will pull/push (not in a mean way, but in a “come on guys” way) and her hugs are painful to see. Half the time the object of her affection ends up on the ground in a giant bear hug! And some days I feel like she spends all day running into or knocking over household furniture!

Interests

Isla is obsessed with Frozen right now! I love it since its about sisters and my greatest wish is for my kids love each other and get along when they are older. I know it frequently doesn’t happen when kids grow up, but I plan to push sibling love whenever I can. They will love each other, OR ELSE…! Frozen is perfect for that. I always point out that Elsa is trying to protect Anna, and Isla should try to protect Gemma or that was not nice of Elsa to say that to Anna, and Isla should try to be sweeter to Gemma. If she were older, I’m pretty sure I’d get an eye roll and a fake barf sign, but for now she just nods gravely and soaks it in. She also loves to sing “Let It Go” and act like she’s Elsa, which is hilarious and adorable to watch.

She is currently in preschool two days a week and Awanas on Wednesday nights, plus I keep Gabby two times per week. She loves Gabby! I am really trying to honor Isla’s activity level. I used to think she needed more stimulation, but now I am realizing that she needs more activity, and all of her current activities are geared more towards stimulation than activity.

Isla after Awanas! She always comes home so happy!

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This June I decided to sign Isla up for as many activities as possible to get a feel for what she likes. After being on the weight list since October, Isla finally got into swim lessons in twice weekly in June! It is supposed to be very good, and includes water survival where half of the lessons include swimming in your clothes in case you fall into the pool. I also signed her up for ballet on Tuesday nights. I am hoping that it will help her be more aware of her body and develop a little bit better coordination. And finally on Thursday she will be in a Frozen themed workshop for three hours that includes, art, dance and gymnastics. I think she will love it!

Hopefully from those activities I can get a feel for what Isla really likes and is good at for the fall. As smart as she is, I think she is a more physical being, and although I am not athletic at all, I hope to encourage that in Isla since she really is so strong!

She still loves puzzles and math/shape activities, but is starting to like her dolls and girly toys just as much. I didn’t realize until very late that I was good at math, mainly because I had no confidence in my math skills. My children will not have that problem. If they are bad at it, its fine. If they are good at it, they will have every opportunity to encourage math and engineering, and so far Isla has. I am happy to see her getting into more imaginative play with her dolls though!

Daddy’s Little Helper

I should say OUR little helper because she LOVES to jump in a help both of us!  However Nick lets her help him with anything, from building furniture to replacing the headlights on our car. For me, allowing her to help does not always come naturally, but its something I am working on. She has surprised me with her ability to concentrate and follow through. She may be active, but she has an excellent attention span. She and her daddy are like two peas in a pod, and I love their relationship. I’m so glad that I have him to balance me out, and that she has father who absolutely adores and appreciates her.

Isla and Nick, camping in the backyard!

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At our local, minor league baseball game!

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Assembling Gemma’s new dresser!

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Eating

Isla is becoming much more picky about food. I can usually get her to try anything or if I feed her she will eat anything.  However when left to her own devices she will declare that she’s full almost immediately if its not one of the classic kid favorites: grilled cheese, pizza, noodles, hot dogs, etc. I thought maybe it was just getting older, but Nick pointed out that she is probably picking up from the other kids’ eating habits at school.

Her favorites remain – cheese tortillas, eggs (we have brought back green eggs), cheesy noodles, and almost any milkshake (fruit smoothie).

Sleep

Isla still has to do quiet time, but she rarely naps, which is too bad. She needs it, however when she does nap we have a battle royale at bedtime… so maybe she doesn’t? We are in a very awkward transition period, for sure. She usually sleeps about 11 to 11.5 hours at night. For a while she was in the habit of waking up in the middle of the night and coming into our room. However instead of going right back to sleep like before, she would lay awake for hours, and then keep us up! And then of course, NOT NAP, which made her so pleasant. It was bad. Finally after two months we had to say that she had to stay in her bed if she woke up, but I would come and sleep on the couch in case she was scared and be closer to her. That put an end to her night waking and after a couple of nights, she stopped.

Big Sister

Isla sometimes loves Gemma, sometimes doesn’t want Gemma around, but all in all, I think she does pretty well with her baby sister. I know she has a hard time because Gemma is at an age where she grabs Isla’s things and gets into her toys and that frustrates her. Sometimes she will knock Gemma over with her belly intentionally as she is passing by. She also likes to pick up/drag Gemma around like a baby doll at times, which really frustrates me since the end result is usually a meltdown from Gemma. I have to remind Isla that she is not Gemma’s boss and that Gemma is her own person who knows what she wants/like!

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That’s about it! She’s just such a wild, funny, sweet little girl and I love being her mommy!

Next up, her birthday celebrations!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Perfect Blendship

So I have been really trying to clean out areas of our house. One area that was overflowing was our t-shirt drawers. We really hadn’t bought many t-shirts since college, but lately I have been acquiring quite the collection of adoption related shirts for the entire family. Also given that our college shirts are getting really faded, I decided that it was time to get rid of them…

Only, getting rid of them was hard. I am trying not to be sentimental about things. I’ve discovered that being overly sentimental is the root of my hoarding when I hoard… but I just couldn’t let those old college shirts go. Thankfully I was watching a show this past summer where I wife sent all of her husband’s old college shirts off and had a quilt made. That seemed like the perfect solution! Instead of getting rid of our college shirts, we decided to repurpose them.

Now, the hard part was figuring out WHO would turn them into a quilt. I have always wanted to learn quilting, but life circumstances have thus far not led me to someone or someplace where I could conveniently learn quilting. I even bought a starter kit to learn when we moved to Russia, but it just didn’t happen without someone to teach me. (Side note: I’m so jealous of those expat communities where people actually DO stuff together. Our little Russian community was too tiny for any hobby clubs.)

So I called up my BFF Emily! Who if you will remember made Isla a beautiful little quilt before she was born. I did not expect Emily to make it, girlfriend has enough on her plate with three small kids, but I know that she has a lot of quilting friends who I might be able to hire to make me one.  And you know what? Emily insisted on making the quilt for me, all I had to do was pay for materials! I really wasn’t fishing, I promise. Pinky swear.

Seriously, what a precious friend I have in her. She is so talented, and such a kind person. She always sees the best people! We actually went to high school our senior year together, but we didn’t really become friends until we found out we were both moving to A&M and living in the same dorm. In high school she was the drill team captain and way too cool for me! (JK, she is not that like at all) Afterwards, we lived together for three years until graduation. Emily is basically a saint since she was able to put up with me for three long years!

Anyway, I sent Emily mine and Nick’s shirts and she pulled this quilt together so quickly and its just beautiful! I absolutely love it. I totally teared up when she gave it to me. It’s a very precious memento from college made my old college roommate.

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A few highlights:

  • A Chilifest 2003 t-shirt, Nick was on the “Red Ass* Chili Peppers” team and Nick and I fell in love and “hooked up” (note: in this case “hooked up” does not involve alcohol, I basically drank alcohol like three times in college or kissing – he put his arms around me and we just both knew) in the middle of Willie Nelson’s performance. We LOVE US some Willie Nelson!Smile 
  • All FOUR Maroon Out shirts (2001 to 2004). I lost my 2001 Maroon Shirt, but thankfully Emily had a extra, which we suspect was mine all along. We wear the same size and I’m pretty sure she accidentally took mine at some point.
  • Class Councils shirts.
  • A “Beat the Hell Out of Bin Laden” shirt. 9/11 happened just a few weeks after I started college. I still get emotional when I think about it. The day that changed American forever, for good or bad, happening at such a formative time in my life… Holy cow, maybe that’s why I’m so flippin’ conservative!

A few notable missing shirts! There are only two that didn’t make it into the quilt that I REALLY, REALLY regret.

  • The first one is Nick’s civil engineering honor society shirt from the year that he was the president (yes, he’s nauseatingly perfect). It was so cool, and I don’t know how I didn’t give it to Emily. It has the Chi Epsilon logo on one side, and a quote the said “Scientist discover a world that exists, engineers create a world that never was.” Ugh, so cool! I’m so mad it didn’t make it into the quilt.
  • The second shirt I am just so annoyed that I lost it over the years because it’s from an event that I am so thankful that I was able to be a part of.  Fightin’ Texas Aggies are a fairly conservative, patriotic crowd, and the Aggie family was devastated after 9/11. To show our love for our country and to honor the fallen in the Twin Towers that day, the university quickly pulled together an event that would be remembered forever in college football. We Aggies always honor our fallen heroes. Anyway, I’m somewhere in the third deck in red even if you can’t see me, probably sore as heck because Aggie students always stand for the entire game, yelling my heart out. I’m so proud to belong to University that cares about what’s important and remembers the fallen.

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Anyway, I love my quilt. I love my best friend. And I love my university! I’m so happy to have this wonderful memento for years to come… maybe one of my girls will take it with them on their own Aggieland adventures? Hey, a mom can dream, right? Smile

*Red Ass is Aggie slang for a good thing and a good Aggie. Its not offensive in Aggieland although outsiders might think it’s a little tacky.

Pure and Undefiled Religion

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