Oliver Twist!

 Warning! There is kitten cuteness overload ahead!!

Since Christmas, we have been anxiously awaiting our weekend of travel to get our new “baby,” as we call him:) A week and a half ago, we hopped in the car after Ben got home from work and drove to Chicago. I think most people thought we were a little crazy driving so far for a cat but most people don’t really understand what this kitten means to us. It’s actually hard to put into words.

We started dreaming of him when things were falling apart in Chicago and we were making our choice to leave or stay. He became a goal for us, a sign of hope and healing, maybe. So we started our Kitty Jar and all five of us, and a few other people along the way, added to it little by little and it’s hard to believe he’s finally here!

We had another good reason for going to Chicago, too~we got to spend a little bit of time with our dear friends, whom we have missed so much! It was far too short of a time but we were able to get in a little play time with their adorable boys and catch up a little over some amazing flourless chocolate cake! (mmmm, my mouth is watering, remembering!

This was our first glimpse of our baby! The breeder brought him out and we all melted into a puddle and unanimously agreed that he was way cuter than we had hoped for:) He ended up in Ben’s arms, purring, while I signed papers, etc. Darling!

Oliver is a Blue Minx Mitted Ragdoll. The Blue Mitted part means that he has gray ears, a tail and nose, and white “mitts” on his front paws and all white back paws. The minx part means that his fur is a blend of colors (cream, gray and a hint of a brownish-gray color) instead of being just cream (which it would be if he was only blue mitted.) And of course, his eyes are a beautiful blue, as Ragdolls are supposed to be!

He slept in his carrier almost the whole 7 hours home, except for a brief stint in my arms. I couldn’t resist!!

Look at those baby blues!

He has quickly adjusted to his new home! His favorite place to sleep is behind my head on my pillow:)

After a few days, we let him check out our school room and he found a safe spot to nap!

He is a snuggle-bug! He loves to climb right up by my face and purr his little heart out and sleep! Sometimes he gets into such a deep sleep, he rolls down and I catch him in my hand and he stays asleep:)

Running up and down the stairs is exhausting!

He is everything we hoped for and dreamed of and we are all crazy about him! Welcome, Oliver Twist!

2015 Rehash

I was thinking that before we got too far into 2016 (it’s only 12 days in so that’s okay, right?!), I should think about what happened in the past year and pick out some highlights.

Last Year:

*We started out the new year deathly ill with the real-deal influenza and still remember the horrors of it a year later!

*Last January, we finally felt settled enough to begin to get involved in things and come out of our Ohio shell-shock.

*Zakkai turned 8 last February and got to celebrate with his Lego party on a cold winter night:) It was lots of fun!

*Zakkai started Tae Kwon Do at the end of March and is now on his 5th belt! It has been SO good for him, in gaining confidence and learning to control his body. He was even brave enough to test by himself this last time which was a big deal!

*Samuel started baseball in the spring, having only done some recreation baseball at the Y in Chicago. Ben was his assistant coach in the spring and the fall and they really enjoyed it! Samuel definitely grew in his skills and learned to love pitching and first base. He wants to do it again this year!

*Challenged myself to a huge May Minimalist game and got rid of tons of stuff and had my first garage sale!

*Samuel turned the big 10 in July, double digits! He got to celebrate with a friend/cousin party at Magic Mountain. He has definitely matured a lot and we begin to see what the dreaded “P” word will look like with him. (hint: emotional!!!) He also has a great sense of humor!

*We had a rough year at school and in March, knew something had to change for the next year. After months of talking, praying, checking out options, we made our big decision in July to homeschool for 2015-2016. Wow, what a change that has been! It was a rough start the first few weeks, as we did and did not anticipate but we began to see a change for the better after the first month.

*And…right when we were starting to get into the swing of things, we moved! It has been a great change for us for the most part. We really love our new home. It has lots of great space for us and just feels a lot more like home. Everyone who comes in usually loves it, too:) It’s also great for hosting parties, as we have found!

*We found a science co-op to attend, started this fall and it has made a world of difference in our homeschooling adventure. We have met the nicest families and have learned a lot. Glad we took the plunge on that one!

*Our Joy-Girl turned FIVE at the end of October, after eagerly anticipating it for at least 6 months:) She had a rockin’ Ballerina party, complete with a surprise bouncy castle! Her emotions have been up and down since turning five but she is working on it and is still (mostly) as sweet as sugar:)

*I also entered the world of building furniture with my re-purposed entertainment center-turned-sewing desk and my new kitchen island. It’s really fun and kind of addicting! I already have new ideas for the next project…:)

*We reconnected with a few old friends, made several new friends and at the very end of the year made a church switch (same church, new campus) and have enjoyed that change. It’s been better for all of us.

And a few silly things:

*Favorite books read by me this year:
 “Seven” by Jen Hatmaker. Truly rocked my world. Loved it.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. Recommended to me by a few people. It’s a Japanese style of approaching de-cluttering and it was really cool! Some parts were…interesting but a lot of it was great and I am using a lot of it in my house and my mom and I are helping other people, too!

More Charlotte Mason Education”  by Catherine Levison. This was the book that finally made everything click about homeschooling for Ben and I and everything took off from there. It had some really great food for though about our children’s education!

I read a lot more but those are three off the top of my head that really impacted me in different ways.

This year I am started off with favorite books on a totally different note as I research our family health and eating habits. My current favorites are:

It Starts With Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig

The Whole30″ also by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. We’ll see what comes out of reading these but they are definitely giving me “food for thought.” Pun intended, haha!

Favorite Movies of 2015:

Inside Out” definitely! We’ve seen it 3 times!! Once in the movie theater in 3D (in which I discovered I should never ever see 3D movies!) and then on Redbox. It’s worth owning so if you haven’t seen it yet, do it!! (side note: after watching it again over New Year’s break, our little family was talking about our emotions and who we think we are mostly “driven” by and it was such a fun conversation! We all agreed that Eliana is mostly driven by “Joy” and it comes to my mind often as I watch her sing and dance and just enjoy life!)

Saving Mr. Banks” I know this wasn’t a new movie but it was new for us! It’s the story behind Mary Poppins and the author. It was so well-done, even better than we expected and we loved it!

The Shop Around the Corner” It’s the black-and-white, old version similar to “You’ve got mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. I loooooved this movie and Ben did, too. We are suckers for old movies!!

I am not sure what to think yet about this new year in front of us. It will be filled with changes (as years always are) and I must admit I am gun-shy of changes after the last several years but I am hoping to approach a new year with a little more hopefulness and eyes opened to the ways in which God is working.

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 I have finally figured out how to get pictures from my phone to  my computer, using the good old fashioned usb cord:) I think picture-less blog posts are so boring!

I made a new tree skirt this year for our tree!I got some fabric last year and never did anything with it (story of my busy life!) but finally decided to spruce up our tree:)

Funny…I never took a picture of the actual tree! It was pretty and very tall! The tallest tree we have had yet!

Eliana got shots a couple weeks before Christmas for her 5 year check-up and this was her reaction to the polio shot:( Poor baby!

Eliana and a couple classmates waiting for ballet class to begin:) So sweet!

Speaking of sweet…..Eliana had her first ballet recital just before Christmas! It was the casual Christmas recital (and SO cute!) and the fancy recital is in June. Eliana did a great job! Actually Eliana’s class did the best out of most of the younger classes, if I don’t say so myself:)

We made cookies over Christmas! Ben took the week off of work and we relaxed and hung out!

I was sick with a stomach bug on Christmas Eve so I felt pretty crummy on Christmas, unfortunately and had to take most of my Christmas pictures from the couch! The kids have really been into duct tape lately and they made each other (and us) lots of duct tape presents:) Samuel is holding his present from Zakkai~a printed picture of our family in a duct tape frame:)

Christmas morning at my mom’s house. I barely made it but I so hated to miss out on all the fun! (Samuel is wearing his duct tape baseball hat:)

Eliana and Cousin Evy:)

The boys with some fun educational toys!

We also got money for a COSI membership (a really fun local scienc-y museum) so we went last week with a couple of friends. I haven’t been since I was a little girl and since they built the new one so it was fun for all of us. Now we know what to do during winter!

And Zakkai belt-tested this week for his purple belt! For the first time, there was no one else in his group testing so he was all by himself. He was nervous but he did such a great job! We are proud of you, Mr Z!

We are so proud of him for all that he has learned and the confidence he is gaining!!

And THIS was our best Christmas surprise of all!!! It was a fun story how God worked it all out and we were able to surprise the kids on Christmas morning with the news that we will be headed to Chicago next weekend to pick up our new baby! (just one). We are so excited to meet our new addition!

Happy New Year!