In Like a Lion..

 We had such a busy weekend following our busy week last week! On Saturday, we got up and drove to the United States Airforce Museum, which is a little over an hour away to meet some good friends of ours from way back in the day from Chi-town:) Now we only live a couple hours apart and are trying, through sicknesses and weather to meet up every so often!

On the drive, Eliana drew this cute little picture. I rotated it but it reverted back for some reason so just tip your head to the left and try not to feel silly:) It’s a monkey wearing red shoes and juggling strawberries and that is his pet monster next to him!

The museum was very cool and the boys, especially were really excited to go! (okay, you can’t tell that from the picture but they really did have a good time!) They are standing by a huge landing gear wheel:)

There were enormous planes inside and so many interesting historical facts! You honestly could spend 3 days there to take it all in…

We went underneath a huge bomber plane and this was looking up inside it. It was a little scary being underneath! The funny thing was, I ran into an old friend of my mom’s while we were underneath the plane! It was a strange place to meet someone from the past;)

A nuclear bomb.

It was a lot of fun and we will definitely be going back!

We woke up to lots of snow on Sunday and it took us quite awhile to shovel and get everything cleared off to go to church. We went early to participate in a meal packing event for the poor. It was a lot of fun! We are so glad we can do things like this as a family; even Eliana had a little job! The goal was to pack 750,000 meals over 5 days and they were over 650,000 at the end of our shift! Very cool.

 In the late afternoon, when Z and I got back from my office cleaning job (he was my chosen helper for the week!) we went outside to build snowmen, since the snow was great for packing! Samuel worked hard to roll a huge bottom!

Samuel and his snowbuddy:)

Z and I had to help him lift the middle on because it was heavy!

Eliana and I built a little mini snow”girl,” complete with raisin eyes and a carrot nose! She was very proud of that snowman.

And Zakkai couldn’t stop long enough to look at me for a picture! He was building a snowfort and took a break here to build a table and chairs:) Such an imagination!
 
Unfortunately, some little 6th grade punks decided it would be great fun on their way home from the bus yesterday to kick down both of our snowmen and throw them all over the yard. I wasn’t quick enough to get out there and yell at them (and I would have!!) but I did get to the door fast enough to watch them walk down the street and took note of the address of one of them.
 
We paid a little visit to his house once I collected the boys from the bus stop and asked for an apology. He denied taking part in it but I got my 2 cents in and then had to pray to let it go. That kind of stuff makes me SO mad because it shows such thoughtlessness and lack of compassion for others. And it affects my kids, who were innocently having fun! Grrr…..

A little pic of all the shoveled snow piled in my grandparent’s yard. They’ll have snow til June!

Don’t they say that March comes in like a lion??

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Piddly Snow Days!

 So. The longer we have been back here in Ohio, the bigger the differences we have noticed from Chicago. One big thing is that they cancel school at the drop of a hat! In Chicago, there must be about 50 feet of snow and -30 degrees to cancel. Okay, okay, maybe not that bad but seriously, Chicago schools closed down for the first time in years when we had the blizzard back in 2011. It was a big deal!

The boys’ school last year closed 4 days total because the temps were -12 before windchill. Totally understandable! Here? They have had a 2 hour delay (back in November), and canceled school at least 3 times already for piddly snowfall or temps being “too” cold. One day was about 2 inches of snow! It is so silly. Ben and I don’t remember it being so bad when we were young. I guess Chicago toughened us!

So…another snow day today. We did get around 4 inches, which was fun! The kiddos found some old recycling bins and used them like trains:)

Zakkai worked very hard to make train tracks.

Eliana tried to convince everyone to take her on train rides:) She loves playing outside with her brothers!

Samuel quickly grew tired of ferrying around his little sis and resorted to just good old fashioned playing in the snow.

Posing:)

I had to work to get Z’s attention!

He was nice enough to stop and give me a quick smile! Soon after, we went in for hot chocolate and a movie. It was a nice morning!

Later in the afternoon during E’s rest time, the boys went out again and spent a lot of time building forts. It was fun to look out the window and watch them:) Now we have a huge pile of wet coats, snow pants, scarves, gloves and boots by our front door.

Oh, the joys of winter!

Bucks, Movies and Veggies!

 Monday rolls around so quickly, doesn’t it? Amazing how time flies! On Friday night, I got “How to Train A Dragon 2” from Redbox and we watched that while we (and by that I mean, Ben) made pizza. I pulled out a veggie tray (seriously, one of the best things I buy!) for everyone to munch on while waiting for our pizza deliciousness. The kids go mad over it!

Movies and Veggies:)

Eliana got some new Frozen sheets for Christmas from her Grandma. I didn’t get around to washing them until this past week because we got sick right afterwards. I promised her I would get them on her bed a.s.a.p.! Wow, that made her happy! The pillowcase is Anna on one side and Elsa on the other. She chose the Elsa side, of course;)

This afternoon we were waiting for the boys to come home on the bus and Eliana wanted to play hide and seek while we waited. I counted and this was her hiding spot:) She was a rock. Very hard to spot in her bright pink coat!! haha, love it!

And last but not least, Go Bucks! The boys are wearing their Buckeye sweatshirts to bed in honor and we are trying to see if we’ll even be able to watch the game. Not very often but sometimes, it stinks not having cable. Why in the world they can’t show a big game like this on regular tv channels, I’ll never know! Oh well…eat some roast Duck, Buckeyes!

More Snow…

 After so many weeks of a grueling winter, we dread checking the forecast! I avoid it as much as possible. Ben got up to drive to work today and there was a lot of snow falling and it continued ALL day long so he ended up having today as his work from home day instead of Wednesday.

The boys spent pretty much most of the day outside sledding! Their good buddy Mikey has a couple of sleds and he has been bringing them out all weekend. They sled down the huge mound of snow out by the end of the sidewalk (away from the street!).

There goes Samuel for sledding round #435!

I didn’t feel like walking out into the snow, as pretty as it is freshly falling, and instead stood under the porch snapping pictures like a mommy stalker:) Yesterday the temperatures got warm enough that the seriously dangerous icicles that have been building up on the roof over the past couple of weeks started to fall. Whoa! It sounded almost like thunder as they slid of the porch roof and crashed!

We made the boys stay far away from the icicles because someone could get seriously injured; these are SO heavy and big.

Can you tell Samuel was having fun in the snow??!

He didn’t want to come in for dinner!

Today, Ben resumed our special date time with the boys by taking Zakkai out for lunch at a little place nearby with hotdogs and other junky cheap stuff:) Just what a kid loves! They had a good time talking and spending time together. Now it’s my turn with Samuel and before we know it, we’ll be adding Eliana into the mix!

We also did a tiny bit of rearranging today. I felt the bug creeping back in over the past week or so and since Ben wouldn’t let me move our atrociously heavy couch, which scratches the wood floors, I moved a couple other smaller pieces. I had to rearrange Eliana’s room, too, to make room for her dollhouse, as Baby C has found it a fun thing to check out lately:) She was very happy helping me fix up her room. Which really means she was asking lots of questions and playing “hide and seek.”

Eliana has a newfound love for playing hide and seek with me, which consists of her saying, “Mommy, find me!” And then she runs to her “hiding spot” and giggles loudly while calling, “I’m over here behind the couch!” or “I’m behind the chair! Find me!” Ha! She gets such joy out of it:)

We are gearing up for birthday #2 this week! We’ll have one happy little boy in a few days:)

Princess Eliana!

 Eliana received her very first dress-up dress for her birthday and it happened to be a princess dress! She has refused to wear it until yesterday….and now she won’t take it off:)

So beautiful!

And sparkly! There is seriously pink glitter everywhere…

The temperature may be bitterly cold today but the sun is shining so brightly that it’s melting the snow on the roofs and making wicked-looking icicles!

Yikes!

Today Eliana paired her princess dress (which she begged to sleep in last night but wasn’t allowed to…) with a beautiful leopard-print sweatshirt and some light-up Dora tennis shoes. Fashion sense?

She has been so into this Barbie with accessories that she got from my Grandma for Christmas that I pulled out my old Barbies today. She is in heaven!

This may be the year that Barbie Love begins! I have so many wonderful memories of hours and hours of Barbie play growing up and I can’t wait to share some with my Missy Girl!

As you may have seen on FB, this morning I came downstairs with Eliana only to find the boys had packed their lunches and unloaded the dishwasher without me saying a word to them! Wow. I said, “Who are you and what have you done with my sons??” They did a great job, too. Samuel made himself a peanut-butter and jelly sandwhich, Z a piece of plain bread (he’s strange), they put in a yogurt and some fruit and I only had to add veggies!

Can it be like this every day??

The other night as I was tucking the boys in, Samuel said out of the blue, “You’re so beautiful, Mommy!” I was surprised and said, “Wow, thank you!” He said, “You could wear a scruffy dress and you would still look beautiful. Not that you would wear a scruffy dress,….only if you were a caveman. Or cavegirl…” Haha!

The boys just came in from a brief romp in the snow and poor Samuel was in tears with blood running down his chin. One of the neighbor boys hit him in the mouth with some ice and he has a nasty fat lip:( Nothing a little tlc, ice pack and cartoon can’t fix. They were such good boys today after all…

Now I need to pull myself together and make dinner. Why do we have to eat dinner every night anyways??

Snow Fun and Videos!

We had our third highest snowfall on record for the month of January this year. We got over 30 inches of snow in one month!! Ben said he feels like all he does is shovel! Side story about our shovel: I am very proud of it! It was one of the last shovels left in the city after the blizzard of 2011. I search high and low for it and finally talked Home Depot into selling their own store’s shovel to me! It had a crack in it but I got a good deal and we have definitely gotten every last penny out of it!
 
So…snow. We got more this weekend. We haven’t been able to enjoy the snow too much because we’ve had these terrible cold snaps and I am not about to send my boys outside when it’s -2 or worse! Thankfully, it was 30 degrees on Saturday and in the afternoon I told the boys to go outside and get some of that energy out!! Eliana went out, too, for a bit but she gave up and went in before I whipped the camera out.
 
They decided to dig a tunnel…
 

Zakkai working on one end…

And Samuel on the other!

He’s so cute with his missing tooth! He is about to lose another one AND he is about to turn 7. I can hardly believe it. In our minds, he’s still 5….

Concentrating hard! They got stuck with some ice in the middle.

Hoping to meet in the middle eventually!

Yesterday for lunch I made bread bowls for the first time with Broccoli Cheese Soup! Aren’t they cute?  I have always wanted to make bread bowls and I found a fairly easy recipe on pinterest. I mixed up the dough before church and let it rise while we were gone. They rose a lot higher than I intended so next time I would make them a little smaller and make mini ones for the kiddos.

All in all, though, I was impressed! And it tasted good, too:)

Eliana is our little Canary Bird. She clams up and gets really soft-spoken when we are out in public but at home? She sings and sings and SINGS all day long! She sings real songs and songs she makes up. Or a combination of both!

She was so wild after church for some reason and was running around and around our house singing at the top of her lungs! Video to follow…

Ben has been working so much lately so when he is home, you can almost always find one of our little people hanging on him like this…..We all are happier when we can all be together!

Her hair is getting so long!

She pointed her bossy little finger at me and said, “YOU need to stop taking pictures!”

Silly boy!

And here’s our wild girl; for proof that she does talk even if she pretends not to in public….Please excuse the mess. Things completely fall apart on the weekends! And that’s what I am working on undoing now….(after my blogging break…)

 

Have a great Monday!

Snow Fun and Glitter!

 I used to be a fun mom way back in the day. When the boys were little, being so close in age, I was constantly searching for and thinking up really fun activities. I get a pang of nostalgia when I think about those days, with my two little buddies going everywhere I went! And now they are so….so big!
Sniff.

I realized this year that I really dropped the ball where poor Eliana is concerned. She gets spoiled yes, but I don’t often do activities with her. She’s just my little companion. This winter I have been trying to do a few more crafty fun things with her because she really enjoys them! And before I blink three times, she’ll be in preschool. Double sniff!

 
On Tuesday afternoon, while the boys were wrestling in the living room, I grabbed some snow (of which we have plenty!) from outside and put in in a big container, handed Eliana her mittens and a few measuring cups and containers and just let her play! After a little bit, I added a few drops of blue food coloring and later some red (which made for a very strange gray-ish purple color!). She mixed and scooped and made some snow cookies!
 

We had actually just finished making real cookies together, hence the apron:) She was my faithful little chef helper and we whipped up a batch of snickerdoodles. Yum!

There is another craft I have had my eye on for a few weeks. It’s called many things: a Time-Out Bottle, Mind Bottle, Calming Bottle, etc. I finally got the remaining ingredients today and we tried it out! Apparently this was all the rage a couple years ago on Pinterest. I am obviously behind the times:)

I got the tall bottles (with the orange drink) from the dollar store. The label was so easy to rip off but it left one long strip of stickiness on both. I tried lemons, vinegar and scrubbing and they only seemed to get stickier. I don’t make a habit of having Goo Gone or whatever it is lying around so I did a little research and then I found Homemade Goo Remover. Seriously, try this stuff!! I whipped up a quick batch and in 4 minutes, the stickiness was completely gone! Wow.

So after I solved our sticky dilemma, Eliana and I made our first Calming Bottle with her color choice of purple:) Here it is settled at the bottom.

We added purple, pink and silver glitter!

Curious little face in the backround:)

And here it is shaken up! The point of the bottles is to shake them up and hand them to your child (or a stressed adult:) and they watch the glitter fall as they calm down. You can use them in time-out or just at a time where you need them to calm down and refocus.

She loves the colors!

Unfortunately, the purple on was too thick (I added too much glue) and it was taking to long to settle so she lost interest. I made another batch in a jar and it was much better!

This afternoon, Eliana and Baby Anna went to a “baseball game.” I thought they were going to watch but apparently Baby Anna was going to play! She is a very talented baby.

Aw, look, a little Cubs fan. That should make a Grandma-Great happy!

“NO MORE PICTURES!” she was growling at me! But who can resist a messy-haired, purple glasses wearing, adorable three year old?

Here are the two final products of today’s experiment! Notice the blue bottle is shorter and leans to the right? Ah yes, that would be where I made a very silly, thoughtless mistake and poured WAY too hot of water into the bottle and shrunk it. Hmm.

And all shaken! They may not be as perfect as all the Pinterest-y perfect people but they are still pretty!

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Maybe some of this new-found resolve to do crafts with Eliana or quilt again or busy myself is just distraction. Okay, let’s be honest, it is. It is helping me to stay busy and keep my mind off of things. It’s my down-time moments that are the hardest for me. The quiet moments without little interrupting voices. The idle times when my brain has time to think. While washing dishes or taking a shower or driving somewhere.

They really aren’t my favorite moments right now because although I spend much of them praying, I also spend most of them with a heavy sadness that I can’t shake. I am really battling my loss of hope right now. I heard a song on the radio today by a peppy Christian artist and she was jamming away about how God was like lotion on her face (or something weird like that) and that she would be totally fine no matter what came her way, etc.

And here I am in a place, that I am ashamed and heartbroken to admit, where I thought she must not have experienced heartbreak herself. Because I don’t feel okay right now. I don’t feel filled up, even though I am crying out to be filled right now. I feel a little empty and it’s very hard to think of hoping again. I’m in one of those places where you wonder, even while you’re trying not to wonder, why things seem to work out so easily for some people? And why it’s so hard for other people to catch a break sometimes. And you start to wonder if God will ever bless you or fulfill the desires of your heart.

Or even more, were we crazy to have come and done all of this and can God really ever use it? Or does He want to?

My Grandma, in all of her love and wisdom, always reminds me never to envy other people who seem to have a picture perfect life. Because you never know what’s really going on behind closed doors or what they may have to face in the future.

It’s true and honestly 99% of the time I don’t envy anyone else and truly feel very very happy for all of our friends and family who seem to be having prayers answered left and right and are in a good place right now. It’s that crappy 1% of the time where I feel hurt and disappointed and I wonder if maybe God forgot about us or maybe we didn’t do something right.

Yes, I know my theology is crap in all of this. Theology doesn’t really play a huge part when your emotions are taking over. And my emotions are kind of a roller coaster at the moment!

The good thing is, this disappointment, coupled with some days off of school, have pushed me to just enjoy time with my kids and stay busy and focused on them. I have had some really good times with them in the past week. Playing Legos (and cleaning them up!), making cookies, watching movies, talking and just being together. I’m often too harried and tired and dreading the bewitching dinner hour to really focus on the boys and enjoy them. Or too busy fitting in all my errands on Tuesdays with Eliana; my one day with just her and a car.

It has felt really good to listen to their stories, hang around them and be lazy and busy all together and to pour myself into them right now. I am so incredibly thankful for my sweet-hearted Samuel, who tells me in great detail about every book he reads (he is really into Hardy Boys right now!) and who loves to joke with us and do his magic tricks on us.

And for my fuzzy-haired Zakkai with his “owl-brow” as we call it; for his love in figuring out how things work and his earnest little face when he wants to tell us all about his new discoveries and for his newfound love for reading “Magic Tree House” books and how proud he is!

And for Eliana, with her happy, dimpled smile that shows us how very securely loved she is. For her little mommy-ness that cares so gently (with a few exceptions!) for her babies, esp Baby Anna, and her love of all things pink and purple; her need to be hugged and held, and how she loves to be a helper.

And for my Ben; who I now know I can face anything in life with. We’ve had some really, really dark days together these past 8 years and some truly amazing moments and he is, without a doubt, my best friend in the whole world.

I think of these things and I can see God in them, even when I am not sure what He’s doing with the rest of our life. It’s all about perspective.