Happy Birthday, Eliana!

On Tuesday, our sweetest girl turned FIVE years old! She was a huge grouch the night before and was boycotting birthdays, parties and anything else we suggested but after a good night’s sleep, she was on board with having a special day:)

Her brothers pooled together their money to buy her a little Lego Friends set and they were beyond excited to give it to her. I have serious suspicions that they woke her up just so they could have her open it! She didn’t seem to mind too much.

We did school and other small things in the day but that evening we took her out to eat! She had such a good time, except for when they servers showed up with a candle in some cookies and yelled out a happy birthday song for the whole restaurant to hear! She was seriously mortified. I can only imagine what it would have been like if she was a teenager:) (hey, I’ll have to remember that!)

Today, we finally had her birthday party! She has had her guest list set since the spring and changed the theme from Frozen, to Princess to Ballerina in the mean time. She settled on a Ballerina party and it was SO fun! I love planning a party and coming up with ideas but I am a huge procrastinator and then I dread the party. Then I love it while it’s happening and after it’s over. I’m weird like that!

The table was set with pink and purple (and a splash of yellow!), fitting colors for ballerinas!

I served little cups with berries, pretzels sticks, pink lemonade and homemade vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting. As I am delving more and more into “cleaner eating,” I am shying away from products with food dyes in them. So after a little research, I found out that blueberries make a beautiful purple color!

I just simmered a cup of blueberries and 1/2 cup of water in a pan for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Then I poured the blueberry juice through a mesh strainer and pressed the berries until all the juice was out and let it cool. I added it to my buttercream frosting and voila! So pretty!

Some of our decorations:) Ballerina snowflake/origami!

Someone was very excited to finally have guest arriving!!

She invited 5 little girls, ranging between the ages of almost 3 1/2 and 6 years old. (one of the little sisters was too shy to take part in the picture!) They all came in their best tutus and ballet outfits!

Beautiful Ballerinas!

First I did a little craft with the girls so it would have time to dry during the party. I had cut out paper leotards before hand in shades of pink and purple. We glued them on white paper and painted their hands and made handprints for tutus.

It was a big hit and turned out SO cute!

I love how each little girls’ was different and beautiful!

Next, we went into the living room for a little ballerina story. I read, “Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella.” (Ella Bella books are very cute for those who love ballet!)

Love those listening faces:)

We had soft Nutcracker music playing in the background and I turned it up for some ballet dancing! Eliana led the girls in some stretches first:)

Then they twirled and danced to their heart’s content!

I copied off of something they do in E’s ballet class and pulled out a little stuffed animal to have the girls jump over. Big hit!

Love her face:) There were LOTS of pictures taken during this time but most were blurry action shots so I’ll spare you! We also played, “Ballerina Says” (instead of Simon says) which was so much fun. I started it and then some of the girls wanted to be “Ballerina” and lead the game.

Next we had cupcake time!

Love, love this picture! Isn’t she precious?

Blowing the candles out! The girls munched for a little bit and then we corralled them into the living room again for presents! (not hard to do at a party!)


Another Lego Friends set!

She got lots of fun things from her friends and cousin! Then we asked all the girls to turn around so we could surprise Eliana with her big present from us, my mom and stepdad and Ben’s mom.


A new play kitchen!! It was so cute to see all 6 girls crowding around having so much fun. We could hardly tear them away! Until….. Wait til you see the next part. My friend’s husband happens to own and operate a very cool local business. He just happened to stop by and offered to do something special for the party….

Ah!! He set up a princess bounce house in our backyard!! (Oh, how much I love having a backyard!!!) I mean seriously, this was the icing on the cake.

We told the girls there was a special surprise in the backyard and brought them in the kitchen.

Love their faces when we opened the door! They all screamed and ran outside:)

What followed was ballerina/princess mania!

Our happy birthday girl:) I’m pretty sure we’ll never top this so that means I don’t have to throw another party again, right???

My friend’s adorable little girl!

Say, “Ballerina!!” What a fun party. It is a joy to be surrounded with family and friends, who take the time to help you celebrate your sweet kids. We are so thankful tonight!


 We were not able to get our kids in sports much in Chicago, other than a few little classes through the Y. We were determined to change that this year! Zakkai, as you know, is now in Tae Kwon Do and he goes 2x’s a week and is doing really well! He is currently a gold belt and will be testing at the beginning of October to become a green belt! I will be sure to post pictures:)

Eliana just got to start her very own, much-desired “sport” (as she calls it) last week! She is finally taking ballet! She is in a 4/5 year old ballet/tap combo class. She has her second class tomorrow and she is SOOOO excited! It’s pretty much all she talks about.

Pretty in pink! Love that soft little belly:) Mr Z had one at this age, too and now he’s a skinny as a beanpole!

She walked right in a sat down. I got to watch through a window the whole time and could not stop smiling:)

Practicing at the barre with her tap shoes!

She learned curtsying, walking on tip-toes, balancing, stretching and some tapping. It was just plain old the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! I can assure you that I will be posting more on this!

Samuel just started fall ball (baseball) a couple weeks ago and last Thursday was their first game. His new team are the “Green Dragons.” Samuel wasn’t thrilled about the new team name (change is hard for him!) but after the game, he was feeling much better about it!

His batting has improved a lot since he first started in April!

He even got to pitch for one of the innings! He says he wants to pitch or play first base so he and Ben have been working hard. His current coach (Ben is an assistant again) is letting all the kids try different positions for a few weeks and then will place them where they fit best. It seems like it will be much better than his last team, where favorites were definitely played and the same three kids got the best positions all season.

Samuel pitched SO well! He threw more strikes than any of the other pitchers and was named ‘Most Effective Pitcher’ of the night! He was very proud and so were we:)

They did lose the game but you wouldn’t have known it from these kids’ faces! They got some great hits and catches in and were proud of their hard work. Go Green Dragons!

Our Exciting Life;)


a.k.a. Miss Adorable Ray of Sunshine!

gets eaten alive by mosquitos!

They think she is an extra-special tasty treat (which she is, of course) and she reacts so strongly, even to the point of blistering and scarring! Poor baby! It has been a miserably itchy summer for her!

 HE (Mr. Warring-with-staying-small-and-growing-up-all-at-the-same-time)

looks like he came out of a war zone every time he rides his bike! This is only one of the wounds on his body right now! Sheesh.

 SHEgoes wherever she pleases in her ballet costume, even to the park:) And quite frankly, it doesn’t bother me! She is only four once….

We saw this little beauty at the park the other day…

So beautiful!

I am taking full advantage of the fresh summer fruits to make delicious things like this!

Oh yes.

And HE (a.k.a. Mr.-Imagination-Central) has learned how to cook eggs (and so has his brother) and that’s all they want to eat! All day, every day! I need chickens!!

You can see that we are getting ready for school to start very, very soon! I am working so hard to organize this all!!!

We became officially official today!

And we really really need bookshelves!!!

And last but not least….WE are moving again! We are like the king and queen of moving, blech!  As in, in this will be our 10th move since we were married….12 1/2 years ago. We lived in one cute little condo in Ohio as newlyweds. Four months after our I do’s, we moved to Indiana for school and had a cozy apartment for 1 1/2 years. We left that sleazy landlord infested apartment for a teeny little duplex 6 months before we moved to Chicago. And that’s where Samuel was born. When he was 8 weeks old, we moved sigh-unseen to an apartment in Chicago, where our rent immediately doubled. (yea, Chicago). We traded in that apartment for a slightly larger one the floor above after Zakkai was born and there we stayed for a couple of years.
Then once the boys started getting into school, we had to navigate the muddy lottery Chicago school system and move to get into a school. We lasted one year in Ukranian Village, where Eliana was born (and where we braved our first blizzard!) before heading to the Western Suburbs so the boys could go to a good non-Chicago public school. And there we stayed for 3 years until our move back to Ohio and into my grandparent’s basement last summer. We roomed with them for 2 1/2 months before we found our current condo, where we’ll have been for one year at the end of this month. Whew!!! Anyone else tired??
 We are very much hoping and praying that this will be the last move before we can buy a home of our own in the next couple of years. But for now, this is a huge answer to prayer! Not only does it have a fenced-in backyard (oh yea!) and a porch swing (which they said we can paint a fun color!!) but it is a HOUSE (which we have never lived in!!) AND we will be saving over $300 per month from what we pay now. Can I get an Amen?!!
We have 7 weeks to pack up our much-reduced belongings (hooray!), get into a good school routine, start Fall baseball with S, start Awana back up, go camping and then we move!
Who ever said life is boring? Not me!


 Sooo…..I don’t blog very much anymore, as you may have noticed. I obviously don’t need to blog as much for family, as was the intention when I first started blogging while we lived away from home. Plus, I often feel discouraged from writing and sharing and feeling like I’m talking to myself!

I often think of posts while I’m driving or trying to go to sleep at night. As a matter of fact, I have brilliant blogging ideas late in the night! I just forget to blog them when it comes time to blog! 🙂

One of the things I think about the most is how different our life looks now as opposed to the past 9 years or so. It’s starting to feel like another lifetime. Probably because nothing we are doing resembles what we were working for all those years in Chicago. Sometimes it hits me. I’ll be driving along to work or somewhere, as happened last week, and it will strike me: Ben is a doctor. And he works in a warehouse. Wow.

No one at his work knows he has a doctorate, save a few of the upper management. A few people at our church knows. Our family knows but no one talks about it. It’s as if….it never happened. We have good days where we really feel like we are where God wants us. We have gone through  (and are going through) a very deeply rooted healing/weeding out process that has truly changed the way we see life. People. Circumstances. And so most days, we live. We go to work. We run errands. We take the boys to their respective practices. We go to Awana. We hang out. We are.

And we have days every so often where it hits us. And we feel really really sad. And we wonder….why? Why did we do all of that? Why did we make all of those family and financial sacrifices? What good is any of it? Will he ever use his degree or knowledge? Will we ever do anything meaningful with our life again? Why did God answer the prayers of people around us and He didn’t answer ours?

Days like those are usually triggered by something. Such as hearing that a schoolmate of Ben’s got a good job. Or someone new finding out about Ben’s schooling and asking lots of questions. Or an old acquaintance wondering what we’re up to.

Those are hard days. But we have a lot fewer hard days than we had a year ago. Things were really dark last spring for us. I don’t even like to think about those days yet or remember them. I just know they were really, really hard, dark and lonely.

And yet here we are! We have family close by, which we longed for all the years we were gone. Our boys are finally able to be active in sports, something that wasn’t readily available to us or possible where we were in Chicago. We are active in our church, volunteering and doing Awana. We love, love our time together in our little family and treasure it especially since our schedules are so busy with working so hard (and all the extracurricular activities.) There are very good things about our life now.

But we’re still waiting. And wondering. Healing and trying to keep hoping. Taking things one day at a time.

Eliana painting at preschool! She dressed up like Elsa for preschool on Thursday:) There are only 2 weeks of preschool left, including a field trip and graduation. It has been fun for me, for the most part. I am very comfortable in a room full of little ones, able to fully be myself, especially with no other adults around! Then I feel unsure of myself and more awkward. Wonder what that says about me??

I had a chunk of my hair cut off yesterday! I always start to look like “It” from the Adams Family after a year between haircuts:) My hair is very, very thick and heavy and needs a little help! I was feeling like a plain Jane so I found a groupon for a nearby salon. Oddest hair stylist I have ever met in my life but I think she did a good job!

 before and after! Before was my thick main, just after I had taken it down for the night. The hair stylist told me I looked Amish…..After, it’s not the greatest pic and hard to see because of the light but I got lots of layers, which thinned out my mane, and angling and side bangs. I do like it! I surprised Ben and didn’t tell him I was getting a haircut. We were playing outside when he got home last night. He said, “Wow, you look nice!” And he looked at me for a minute and then said, “Your hair…..you got a haircut!” He really likes it:)

Playing outside yesterday in her little car! She has a little cough this week, leftover from the nasty cold that has been circulating in our family the past few weeks. I was hit hard last week and felt absolutely terrible all week. The boys started it the weeks before and then Ben got it and then it’s just been hanging on with Eliana. At least she feels mostly good and can still enjoy the rare days of sunshine!

Let’s see….other news. Remember when I asked for prayer about the boys’ schooling? Well, we’ve done tons of praying, talking and checking into options and we are definitely certain that they don’t belong in their current school next year. We are not at all happy with it. Zakkai’s teacher stepped it up after 2 conferences and is doing pretty well at challenging him. Samuel’s teacher just completely dropped the ball and her response to our concerns were highly unsatisfactory. He pretty much lost a whole year of schooling this year.

The good news is that we found a nearby charter school. The boys did some placement testing and did really well and were offered spots immediately! It’s free (yea), they have to wear uniforms (I love it, they don’t so much, haha!) and it’s really challenging. All the classes are advanced classes and they really push kids to try their hardest. We are pretty certain we are going to give it a shot and see if the boys fit well. We’ve been on a tour and talked to the principal and have just tried to get a good feel for the school.

I am nervous about having them change school again and having it be too challenging but as Ben said, We can always try it for a year and if it doesn’t fit or they aren’t thriving, they’ll be able to go anywhere after that! Please pray for continued wisdom and peace!

Samuel is loving baseball, especially with Coach Ben/Daddy helping the team. As a matter of fact, they are both loving it. They are outside practicing now as I write:) Games start 2 weeks from today so they have been practicing hard. Today was supposed to be the first scrimmage but it’s supposed to rain so it will probably be canceled. Darn all these spring rains!

Samuel is continuing to GROW so tall! He’s grown an inch since Christmas and eats like he’s starving to death! He will be passing me by all too soon! And I’m only slightly freaking out that he will be TEN this summer…..ah!

Zakkai is loving Tae Kwon Do and we are so thankful that he has his own special sport to participate in. He will do his first Belt Testing in May!! He’s going through some kind of phase and is a little more emotional these days. It’s really hard to get to the bottom of things with him, as he doesn’t openly share his feelings (like his two sibling!) so I am praying that I can put aside my frustration and help him work through this.

He really wants to grow like Samuel did and everytime he has a pain in his legs, he says it must be a growing pain:) He always has eaten like a horse and savored every morsel so it’s hard to tell when he has a growth spurt!

Eliana is 4 1/2 now and as sweet as ever! Except when she’s bossing her brothers around:) She has been SO affectionate lately and tells me she loves me 20 times a day. She loves to play with her baby dolls (Baby Anna and Polly), read books and color! I pray her sweet spirit will only grow stronger as she gets older. She tells me she loves God and that she prays to him and that she wants to be baptized. She has such an assurance of God’s love for her that it surprises me sometimes. Pretty amazing. Samuel also is interested in getting baptized; Z is scared to because he isn’t comfortable around groups of people. So thankful for my kiddos and just praying that their knowledge of God’s love will grow and grow and grow!

So that’s all for now, folks. I am considering getting on a blogging schedule to help me get back into it. I just need to really think about my reasons for blogging, who I’m writing to and what I want to write about! If you have any suggestions, my ears are always open!


 Woohoo! I finally figured out how to get pictures from my new phone to my computer! Now to figure out videos…..because I have some cute ones of Z doing his Tae Kwon Do:)

So, let’s play picture catch-up, shall we?

I met a friend at the zoo a couple weeks ago. I brought the stroller just in case, even though Miss E insisted she didn’t need it! She was in and out the whole time;)

Our very favorite thing we saw were the polar bears!! They were swimming and having the best time!

There is a cool place underground where you can go watch the polar bears swim over you. Very cool!

Their paws are just massive! We could’ve stayed there for hours:)

We went back to the zoo the following weekend as a family, with some friends. The weather is perfect for seeing animals~sunny, not too hot and not too cold! Look closely and you’ll see the elephant is standing over another elephant taking a nap! So funny.

I want one, I want one! Red pandas are adorable! We watched this cutie scale a tree to join his friend, who was napping.

Beautiful (and scary) tigers snoozing!

The brown bears were devouring a delicious snack that was being tossed down to them from way up high.

We learned a few things about bears in the 10 minutes we watched them. One, they like fruits and veggies. Two, they do not like banana peels and can slice them open quickly and eat the insides out. Three, they have razor sharp claws. Four, and teeth! They can eat a raw sweet potato. Try gnawing on that!!

Since it was the day before Easter, bunnies were out in full force at the zoo:) Eliana usually doesn’t like things like this but she wanted to go right up and give “Miffy” a big hug. Who is Miffy anyways??!


There were several bunnies to choose from but the only other one she was willing to hug was Buster and we talked the boys into joining:)

Love, love this beautiful trio!!!

We had another eye re-check last week. Goodness, look how big she’s getting! Anyways, the goal is to match the vision in both her eyes as best as we can. Her prescription is now pretty good but her new dr added in another element….

The patch. I was really taken aback when he said we had to do this but understand the reasons why, even if I don’t like it. We have to patch her right eye (her dominant eye) 2 hours a day for awhile (possibly 6 months) to give her left eye a chance to gain strength focusing, etc.

Surprisingly, she has taken to it really well! She asks to do it each day, which is a relief, because it’s one more thing in my day, which is hard. She has to do focusing activities while wearing it and often towards the end of the 2 hours, per dr’s suggestion, I give her a little time on her brother’s Leapster Explorer as a reward for doing so well (plus it really makes her eye focus!) She has 3 girly colors to choose from so I let her pic each day what she would like.

More on patches later!

Lots of rain and storms lately but also more emerging sunny days! Yea for outside time!!

Ben had to work this weekend so he missed some time seeing the chickies. They are all over him like white on rice if he gets down on the ground!! (Samuel was there, too, but was off sulking because of an “injury.” 🙂

Our weekends are very busy now!! Samuel started baseball practice Saturday and Ben is the assistant coach! As you can see, his team is the Phillies, which is funny since no one on the team likes the actual Phillies! Samuel LOVED going to practice and even game home sporting dirt from a “slide” on to base;)

And while Ben took him to practice, I took Mr Z (and E) to Tae Kwon Do. We met back at home for lunch and then B had to go to work til after midnight. Yuck.

But we enjoyed a really nice day yesterday, complete with a visit to the park and some DQ!!

Bad Mama and Funnies!

I know, I know, I know that picture-less blog posts are SO boring!! However, I have a new phone and really have no idea how to get pictures from A to B to here! So…pictureless it is for now.

Good news? I have a new phone;) I was barely hanging on that last month or two, with a phone that felt like dying whenever it pleased! Now Ben and I having matching phones (aw!) and are trying to figure out how to use them:)

Spring break is over so we’re back to the school grind. Well…if you can call this boring school a “grind.” Bad mom moment: I’m running around all crazy Monday morning getting breakfasts, packing lunches, telling Eliana she can’t go to the bus stop in her pajamas (I have so never ever been a public jammy person. Kudos to you if you have the confidence to do it!) and not once had I looked my boys in the eye.

So, I’m barking out orders, “Get your coats on, shoes on, time to leave for the bus!!” And then Zakkai comes over to me, moments away from walking out the door, to tell me something. And…I got a good look at his face. “Um, Zakkai, what’s up with your eye?” He says, “Oh yeah, it had all this junk in it this morning and I couldn’t get it open! It’s kind of bugging me.”

Right. Just what every parent wants in their house~pink eye! Of course, I’d much rather have pink eye than lice or bed bugs, I’m pretty sure:) So, no school for Mr. Z on Monday. He had meds by 10am and enjoyed a fun day playing with Eliana and washing his hands a bazillion times:)
 I had some psychological eye-itching that day but it was all in my head!

Thankfully, no one else has gotten it! (Oh please, let it stay that way!)
A few funny kiddo one-liners/funnies:

Eliana: “Mommy, remember when you put these shoes on me with no socks or tights and I got blizzards on my feet?” (haha, love it!)

Zakkai: “I wish I could wear deodorant, too, like Samuel!.”
Me: “Well, don’t worry, someday you will. But I don’t want you to grow up too fast!”
Z: “Well, I want to grow up so I can wear it. How old will I be when I need it?”
Me: “I don’t know, bud. It’s different for everyone. I want you to grow up…just not too fast!”
Z: “I don’t want to grow up too fast either….but I do want to be stinky!!”


We have been waiting on a few schedule confirmations and then we are hoping to plan a trip back to Chicago soon to see friends! We have several people that keep asking us, plus Samuel asks at least once a week. I hope it won’t set him back to go. He has not had the best year and has taken all this change hard. Sometimes he seems to be thriving and other times, it’s just hard. I hope a trip back will be a blessing!

That’s all for now! I’ll work on getting pictures up asap! Ciao.

Spring Break Part II!

 This week has been the boys’ spring break! We did not take an exotic vacation, unfortunately (money and all that jazz;) so we’ve been hangin’ around here. Samuel really really wanted to go to Chicago this week but we want to wait until Ben can go. I’ve been trying to come up with little things to occupy everyone!

First, a few pics!

Eliana and her little cousin being silly at JoAnn’s:)

I got together with a friend of mine last week so our girls could play and we could make some snacks! We made fruit roll-ups and granola bars. Yum!

We filled out a little bracket for a friendly family competition and Eliana, who was very proud of her bracket, chose Virginia because that’s where her cousin lives! We haven’t broken the news yet that they lost….

Fun news! Zakkai is now taking Tae Kwon Do!! We have been wanting to get the boys involved in something but it’s really expensive and time-consuming! We found a great class through our church and it meets three times a week (he only has to go at least twice.) We have thought for the longest time that martial arts would be so good for him; to build self-confidence, learn self-discipline, respect, etc.

Z has hemmed and hawed when it comes to choosing a sport but after trying this class, he LOVES it!! I had a chance to go watch him last night and it was just adorable! Pics coming soon:)

And Samuel will be starting baseball next week, I think! He is excited about it. We are waiting to hear what team he gets on and if Ben will be a volunteer coach. Boy, if our schedule wasn’t busy enough already…..
This week has seemed long and different. I have been teaching preschool this week (as E’s spring break was last week) so the boys hung out with their Grandma both days. They had a lot of fun!! On the off days, aside from running errands here and there (grocery store, library, etc), we have done a couple fun things using some Christmas gift cards the kids got like going to see a movie (“Big Hero 6” SO cute!) and getting ice cream at Graeter’s (an Ohio specialty!) The weather is “eh” this week so unfortunately, we haven’t gotten to do outside play or parks. Watch next week be gorgeous:)

I’m still trying to decide what to do with them on their last day tomorrow. We have to plan something or we feel crazy being cooped up! Spring fever, anyone??