We had a really long afternoon, trapped at “home” with no car while Daddy went to a meeting and his new part-time job. (It’s a start!) We have been out and about getting sun and swimming lately so some of us have been a wee bit crankier than usual, despite a nap….

We needed to do something quick to cajole this 3 year old out of her monster mood! Enter….the handy camera phone:)

Wait…is that a smile peeking through?

Oh, we’re all so sad.

No, wait! We are mad now!

So excited! (We aren’t quite sure about what yet but it’s good to practice just in case!)


Monster faces! (I just love Zakkai’s faces!)

Another try..that’s the spirit!

Silly smiles:)

We’re sticking out our tongues at you! (sorry, I know that is bad manners!)

Fish faces!

And some winking….
We are SO cool, aren’t we?! But you know, it broke the bad mood vibes and we had a nice little bonding moment:) Plus, free entertainment for you!
Happy Friday! 


More swimming and sweet teeth.

We are staying busy over here in Ohio. My niece has been spending lots of time with us and thinks her cousins are pretty cool:) We were a bit cooped up yesterday without a car and we were all going nuts by the time Ben got home! He had a 2 day job with my brother-in-law, which was nice.
Today, though, he left the car so that I could gain some sanity and get my cooped up birdies out and about!

I decided to snap some pics of our cuties while we were driving back to my grandparent’s place the other day. Samuel was being moody but we coaxed a smile out of him and I took a picture to tease him:)

So then, of course, Miss E wanted a picture, too!

Zakkai insisted he wanted a picture all by himself. Poor kid gets stuck in the back of the van all the time because Samuel gets carsick very easily and claims the middle seat. Or dominates, I should say! We try to have them switch every so often, despite the grumbling from elder brother.

The two little girls had a fun bath the other day and neither one wanted to get out!! It will be so fun to see these two grow together:)

We were able to get some swimming in today before more thunderstorms came.

It’s such a cute pool and the kiddos have a blast!

This is Zakkai listening to my mom telling him that if he is brave enough to go down the slide, she will go, too! That definitely peaked his interest!

Eliana’s glasses matched her bathing suit perfectly!

My sweet Mama!

We had some sad news this week, too. My stepdad’s brother passed away unexpectedly 2 days ago, which really shook everyone up. He was only 48 years old. It was really a tragic death and their youngest brother is suffering terribly, as they were beyond close. I will be going to the viewing/funeral on Thursday. He was a really quiet man, like my stepdad, but really nice and I was genuinely looking forward to seeing his brothers again now that we are back here. So very sad. We would definitely appreciate prayers for his brothers. (my stepdad and his youngest brother.) It will be very hard for them. Their parents also passed away at early ages and they only have a few aunts and uncles left.

Most of our family are heading out tomorrow for a family wedding so we will be all by our lonesome selves for almost a week. We keep teasing them that here we just moved to be close to everyone and they are all abandoning us! We may take some time to start hunting for a home. Ben also has a couple of interviews for some part time jobs lined up this week. We are praying things will start to come together soon.

If we stay here much longer, we will have to curb the dessert eating! My grandparents have some serious sweet teeth and it’s a very bad influence on us;) We haven’t minded too much, of course, as we have our own set of sugar-lovin’ teeth but it will be good for us to behave!

Remind me of that when I start craving some of the Caramel Praline Pecan ice cream in the freezer tomorrow…..:)

The Thomas Socialites?

It is so hard to believe that a week ago we were killing ourselves to clean our townhouse in Chicago so we could get some rest before the big move the next day. It’s been quite a week! We have received a lot of encouragement and kind thoughts and prayers from people over this past week. It still feels strange to be here but we are started to re-familiarize ourselves with the area and starting to think a little bit about where we might want to live.

Ben worked very hard this week looking for jobs. He had some really strange experiences and it isn’t the way we ever envisioned him getting a job but we are trying hard to trust that something will come soon. Once that falls in place, we can get serious about finding a place to live, which will help us all the way around. The boys really need to be settled in before schools starts so we can meet people and feel a little more at home. For now, my grandparents are being more than gracious hosts to us and we are incredibly thankful for their warm hospitality!

In other news, no pun intended (or maybe so!), who said living here was boring? We were all on ABC news last night! My mom’s neighbor won a party and the news station (who was running the contest) came and filmed snip-its of the party. The party was being catered by some really good local restaurants/businesses and was for 100 people so the neighbor told my mom and stepdad to invite their family. We were stars! haha. There was a big bounce house for the kids and great food. My stepdad even won a prize! We all got a kick out of watching the clips afterwards and laughing about our brief moments of fame:)

Today we spent a lot of time at a really great park with my brother-in-law and niece. She is really enjoying time with her cousins and it’s fun to hear her try to say all of our names. We had lunch afterwards and then tried to acquaint ourselves with a nearby grocery store. I practically had an internal meltdown at the store. I know it sounds so silly but there was a lot going against me! a) it’s really hard to go grocery shopping with the whole family. Very overwhelming! b) We didn’t know our way around the store at all so it was a reminder to me of the big changes here for our family and c) it was really expensive! I was expecting the prices here to be much cheaper but that sure wasn’t the case with this local chain. Boo. I will be hunting down my Aldi and Targets asap!

We are definitely being more social than we are used to, which is really tiring. Thankfully, we are mostly sleeping well at night. Eliana is in with us since there is limited space so that makes it harder for me to get full rest. She is either fighting a cold or allergic to something and is congested and coughing so she cries out for me sometimes. A few nights ago she was up for almost 2 hours in the wee hours of the morning singing softly to herself and whispering. We did smile when we heard her soft, “Oompah, loompah, doopa dee doo, I’ve got another puzzle for you!” (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!) but it would’ve been funnier if it wasn’t 4 in the morning…..

For now, we are trying to adjust and trust but still really enjoying the extra time with our families and the luxurious comfort of my grandparent’s basement:) Ciao!

Strawberry Picking and Swimming!

 We are really feeling at loose ends here in Ohio. It is the oddest feeling to be homeless. We are wanted and loved here and very thankful for the welcoming arms that have enveloped us, however, there is such a sense of displacement that we feel. It is very hard to convince ourselves that we are not just visiting and that soon people won’t be asking us, “How soon are you heading back?” Well, hopefully they won’t be asking us that! It wouldn’t be a good sign….:)

We are really hoping and praying that things (especially a job and a home) fall into place soon because then I think we can truly believe that we are here and begin to find our place to fit in. Thankfully, our kids seem to be doing really well now that we are all a little more rested. Eliana had a very tough time Sunday and through the night. She was beyond emotional, asking when we were going back to our home, and cried and cried and couldn’t be more than a foot from me at all times. After a couple of days of naps and good sleep, she is back to her happy self. Although, the question of “home” is a good one…

We have had some happy times with our families though. Yesterday, we got to go strawberry picking nearby which was a first for us!

It was a beautiful day and surprisingly, there were a lot of juicy, ripe strawberries left to be found, picked and eaten!

Eliana only needed to be told once not to pick the small, white berries. She was very proud of her finds!


My cute little niece came, too, and ate her way up and down the rows! We finally had to put a stop to that so she wouldn’t make herself sick:)

Samuel found lots of good strawberries!!

Zakkai did, too, but he only wanted to show off his favorite one:)

We were also gifted with a pool pass here so we went yesterday afternoon! There is a really great kids area with sprinklers and steering wheels and all sorts of fun water play. We had a great time!

Ben was with us, too but during the rest time, he got in for the adult swim while I held the children at bay:) They thought it was terribly unfair that the kids had to get out! But I, for one, am thrilled at the idea of a childless swim period as I am not too fond of being sprayed in the back and head with water guns and splashed! Call me a wimp if you must…

Brothers! They didn’t quite work up the nerve to go down the big slide into the pool but I bet that will come by the summer’s end! They are hoping we will go swimming tomorrow again:)


Today we spent some good time with Ben’s mom (or “Daddy’s mommy” as Eliana likes to call her) and Grandma, which was really nice. The kids love to play with his Grandma’s collection of stuffed animals and are highly entertained by them! Z also played on her organ, too, which I forsee being a future favorite.

We had lunch with Grandma and got to play a fun game with her. We are so looking forward to spending more time with her!

Now to convince ourselves that this isn’t just a vacation…..

We made it!

We made it. It has been 6 days of crazy chaos where we pretty much never stopped. I can’t even describe the last 3 days to you! Except that….I will, of course:) After I get a good night’s rest.

So, Budget decided to send us the biggest truck they had because they felt like it! No extra charge:) We had plenty of room! We got rid of so much stuff in this past month but we still had plenty to put in the truck. Darn it! Guess we need to do some more purging!


Ben and I got up at 6 am this morning (the kids were already in Ohio) and finished the last bits of cleaning (we spent 8 hours cleaning yesterday after packing up the truck!) and packed up all the last minute things. It still took us 2 hours so we didn’t get on the road until just after 8 am. Ben, a former CDL class B license holder drove this monster of a truck like a pro! Seriously, wow! (side note: Happy Father’s Day, Ben! I got you this really huge truck to drive and an expensive one way ticket to Ohio!! It will be a memorable one for you!:)

I have had a hard time processing all of this and have been so focused on getting everything done that I haven’t let my guard down enough to feel the emotion of this change. I started to feel it after we said goodbye to our best friends in Chicago on Friday night. We drove home and it started to hit me what we are doing and who we are leaving behind. But today, closing the door to our home for the last time was hard. I had a book on tape to listen to in the car as I followed our Monster Truck but I just needed to drive in silence for a bit and do some praying and just feeling.

I don’t think it will fully hit me until we have a place of our own. For now it just feels like we are visiting like we always do. (except for the fact that all of our earthly possessions just got loaded into a storage unit!)

I was very bad (I know!) and snapped a couple blind shots of the skyline as we drove by…
Goodbye for now, Chicago. I promise to write you a better tribute when I unpack my brain….

Moving Week!

 Oh my goodness. Moving is chaotic. Wow. Every day is filled with checkmarks off of lists. Lists of lists! We have lists coming out of our ears! I guess the good news is we are accomplishing a lot. The bad part is our house looks like a hurricane blew through it!

This morning, a very sweet friend came and took all three kiddos to play for a few hours and gave them lunch. We had 4 hours to work like dogs and we did! I got SO much done without “Mommy, mommy!” every 5 seconds. I do love my “helpers” but sometimes they are a little hindering to the whole packing process:)

Especially this little creature:)

She wanted me to take a picture of her new flip-flops! She was very well coordinated this day. She doesn’t fully understand what is going on or what an actual move means but the busyness and chaos is definitely affecting her. She has been fully potty trained for a year now but is having accidents all over the place. Hopefully this will settle down soon!

A few days ago, Eliana woke up, put on her little leotard and told me she wanted to work out! I did not want to work out but she was an inspiration to me so we did a little Jillian Michaels together;) This is some exercise get-up! I’m not so sure I could pull off the same look…

The day before school ended, there was an “All School Celebration” at school with tons of fun activities including face painting. Samuel got a snake on one cheek…

And a green angry bird on the other:)

Here’s our silly guy on the last day of school. He seems to be handling the move fairly well, although he is extra silly and distractible, which is really frustrating sometimes. He is just so wound up from everything going on. Boy, I hope we survive all of this!

We’ve had a lot of these faces, too, from E and S but we are working hard on that!

We are cramming in the good-byes and getting lots of special time with special people. We had a birthday party on Saturday, a graduation open house on Sunday, dinner with some of our neighbors on Sunday night and dinner out tonight with our special friends Mr. Chuck and Ms Sally, whom we adore. Being so social is exhausting! But as hard as the good-byes are getting, we love our friends so and will treasure all of these memories.

4 1/2 days and counting…..

Last Day of School and Party!

Yesterday was kind of a hard day for all of us. It was my last day of babysitting for Baby C and that was really hard for me. Eliana and I both cried after he left. He is such a busy boy and such a little joy and he has been our little buddy for almost a year now. It was also the last day of school and was full of very mixed emotions for the boys this year. On one hand, who doesn’t like to be out of school for the summer? But on the other, it meant that they had to say goodbye to the school and friends they have loved so much for the past few years. I made sure to bring my camera and take pictures for them!

Here they are after school with two of their buddies. Danny and Marissa were some of our first friends here and their mom and I walked to and from school almost everyday the past couple of years until she went back to work. We will miss them!

Zakkai with our beloved Mrs. Shapiro. She was such a blessing to our family, as we had her for both S and Z!

She is a teacher we will never forget. Such a perfect blend of grandmotherly and firm with the kids. She commands respect and yet is so sweet with them, they all love her! She helped get our boys off to a really good start in school!

Here is Samuel with his teacher, Mrs. Davis. She is full of energy and gets the kids really excited about learning. She has been such a great listener and encourager and Samuel loved her!

Today we switched gears and got ready for our good-bye party! The boys were mostly excited about it. Again…the whole good-bye thing…This was the invitation. Very cute!

I made memory books for the boys from mini binders and had each of the kids bring a picture to the party and write a message on a paper for the boys. I will put them all together tomorrow, hopefully. I need to do it quickly since there is so much to do!

I think the boys will really treasure these. They took them to school a couple days ago, before I even had the covers finished and had their teachers write them a note. They were really sweet notes! I also put together small “stay-in-touch” cards for each boy to give to their friends. On one side, with a little soccer logo, it had some info to stay in touch with friends, including their very own combined email address! They are very excited to have an email address to stay in touch:) And on the other side, I put a picture of the boys (the ones on their memory books.) I laminated them and they turned out so cute!

It was a VERY low-key party. I made little soccer cupcakes. The soccer balls are actually rings. Eliana was thrilled about having another ring to add to her jewelry collection:) So the kids played soccer on teams, had treats, played some more soccer and kick and catch and then played on the nearby playground. Easy and fun!

Waiting patiently for cupcakes!

Samuel and one of his best friends, T.

T, Samuel and J. J moved here from China at the beginning of the year and has learned SO much English, it is amazing. He is the translator for his mom, who is very shy. He loves to goof around, as we have found out!

For instance…

Silly boys:)

And oh, we can’t forget Mikey! He showed up at our doorstep within 3 days of us moving and has been a regular fixture at our backdoor. He is really a sweet boy and he is incredibly sad about the boys moving. We hope he will stay in touch!

LJ is our neighbor, who has come to/from school with us for the last 2 years and often comes to church with us. He says it will be very boring without the boys next door!

Ben got all the boys involved in a soccer game pretty quickly!

It was pretty warm out in the field so after 45 min, we had everyone come under the shelter for a break and lots of water and juice! And cupcakes:)

Cooling off. Samuel got really overheated and felt really sick for a little while:( We forced him to drink 2 water bottles and rest for awhile. Thankfully, he perked up after a bit. Poor kiddo!

Ben enjoyed some good conversation with one of our friends from church. They have a son in first grade also at the school and they are the nicest family!

The whole gang! We had several kids not show up, which was a little disappointing for the boys but they still had a really good time.

Samuel and his other best bud, R. These two and T (from the first picture) will be having a sleepover next week before we go. They can hardly talk about anything else!! Samuel is most sad about leaving these two. I really hope they’ll be able to be pen pals.

It was a busy but good day! Now on to a very busy last week here….