Monday, April 29, 2013

Preparing the Welcome

No, our sweet babe has not yet arrived.  

But, thanks to G-Bear and E-Bear, our home will be a welcoming place when Little One comes home!

This weekend, we enjoyed the spring weather with some much-anticipated backyard playtime and yard work.

As T, Buddy Bear and I cleared brush and leaves from the flower beds, G-Bear and E-Bear were hard at work, decorating the sidewalks to welcome their newest sibling home.

G-Bear's message (which sounded out herself) reads,

"Welcome Home, new Baby.
G-Bear and E-Bear"

She also left a note for Peter Pan from Wendy.

Our patio wall has never looked better.

On behalf of our Newest Addition, and early thanks to you, G-Bear, for the thoughtful welcome home!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sundays at Church

It's the Easter season, and we are all letting lessons of God's love sink into our lives in our own way.

Last Sunday was Good Shepherd Sunday.  After listening to the readings about how Jesus is our Good Shepherd, G-Bear came home and drew a great picture for us:
G-Bear's interpretation of the Good Shepherd

I don't know about you, but God has pulled me out of more than one ditch in my lifetime.  
I think G-Bear has the right idea!

Buddy Bear takes on church in his own way as well.  
Last weekend, this was his response to the Liturgy of the Word:

As T so aptly said: 
"Buddy Bear shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God!"

We're all growing, little by little, by His grace and help.  :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Happy Birthday to the Mama Bear

Last week, I was blessed to spend my 32nd birthday with my Love and my Bears.  Just like Buddy Bear, our Little One was so kind to decide NOT to emerge on my birthday.   Even my new twin nieces were even kind enough to be born the day before. Hey, what can I say, I like having my own birthday!

G-Bear was nice enough to loan me her Birthday crown for our cake-cutting ceremony.

The Bears and I had a wonderful birthday lunch with GG and cousin L.  Then, T took us out to the Birchwood Cafe for dinner.  He knows me so well.  The sign that we read above the counter as we walked in was proof that it would be the perfect place for birthday dinner:

Our meal was awesome in it's casualness and deliciousness.  Buddy Bear loved the fresh lemonade:

E-Bear and G-Bear loved coloring the homemade placemats:

We all loved our meals and left with full tummies and big smiles on our faces:

 Afterwards, we picked up an ice cream cake from our favorite homemade ice cream spot, and the kids worked together to decorate it when we got home.  They did such a great job!

This crew knows how to celebrate, and with so many family birthdays this month, that is a good thing!  Thanks to T and to my Bears for making my birthday so special.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Awaiting our Little One

Today is our Little One's due date.  

April 20th, 2013, waiting for Little One to arrive.

Little One is already adored by three older siblings, Mommy and Daddy.

We can't wait to meet this active babe.

May God bless us all as your arrival approaches, Little One.

Monday, April 22, 2013

An Elmo party for our Two-year-old

Way back in March, when we were discussing G-Bear's desires for her birthday cake, Buddy Bear impressed us all by announcing his choice for his birthday theme:

"Mommy, Mommy!  Gee, gee, gee.  ELMO cake!"

Yes, our little man made it very clear that he was hoping a certain furry friend would grace his birthday cake.  He has been talking constantly about it ever since.  So, naturally, we had great fun this weekend celebrating our Buddy Bear with a little Elmo party.

Yes, the table cloth is a bed sheet that we inherited from MoMo and Papa.  It worked quite well, don't you think?  The Elmo cupcakes turned out okay, in spite of my lacking artistic talent.  Fortunately, Buddy Bear was excited and impressed, and that is all that mattered to me :)

Buddy Bear LOVED opening his birthday presents.  Thanks to MoMo and Papa, Aunty Cindy and Nana for the wonderful gifts!

Our buddy didn't eat a bite of his dinner.  He was too excited about the cupcakes sitting RIGHT in front of him!  Perhaps that was poor planning on my part.  Instead, he danced to the Sesame Street background music while we ate pizza and salad.  Good thing he was the birthday boy!  He was plenty excited about getting back in his seat for dessert, however.

Buddy Bear had been practicing his candle-blowing skills all day, showing people how he was going to do it, so of course, he did a great job!  His candle was blown out even before we finished singing "Happy Birthday!"  Dude wasted no time diving into his cupcake:

We had to try that picture a second time:

Can you tell we are crazy about this little guy and his BIG personality?!

 By the end of the evening, our Buddy Bear was exhausted.  He had missed his nap for the day and couldn't wait to jump in bed.  "Happy, happy..." he would say over again throughout the night, recounting to us that it was a happy birthday.

Thanks for sharing your special day with us, Buddy Bear.  And thank you for two wonderful years.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Happy 2nd Birthday, Buddy Bear!

Hip, hip hooray, Buddy Bear turned two today!
Dearest Buddy Bear,

I can't believe it, but you have turned two.  My round belly reminds me of where we were just two short years ago, so excited to welcome you into the family.  Now, we can't imagine life without you!  The past twelve months have been a wonderful whirlwind of watching your personality, motor mightiness and vocabulary blossom.

May:  You looked just like your Daddy, riding behind me on my bike during our trip to Hilton Head.  I love strapping you to my back in the backpack, and you love it to, so we do almost everything together this way: shop at the store, stroll on walks while your siblings are at preschool, cruise up to the park on sunny afternoons.  Around the house, you love to pull the costumes off the costume wall, pull my cooking magazines off the shelf, and dig through the arts/crafts basket.

June:  You have so much to say that it is quite frustrating for you that I understand so little of it.  You are becoming very good at making me understand in other ways. :)  You enjoy our first trip to see the race cars, even falling asleep with my hands over your ears.  You can't walk yet, but that doesn't stop you from going down the slides by yourself at the park!  You have a wonderful time eating sand on the beach in Rockport.  I thought I would never get you clean after those sandy diapers!

July:  You are walking!  Nothing can stop you now.  Whether you are carrying me "breakfast" that you made in the play kitchen or wandering into the bathroom to splash in the toilet (I really should have let MoMo get you a splashtub for your birthday!), you are always pleased to garner my attention.  Your curls are long and beautiful, and I can't bear to cut them yet.  Your favorite (and only?) words that we understand are "tickle" and "hi," but you have lots of other words to share with us too!  Your days of sleeping soundly in the darkness of our bathroom are numbered, because soon we will be heading for Minnesota.

August:  It is no fun to move.  Packing boxes is especially frustrating for you, because none of your familiar toys are in their proper place anymore.  You weather the long drive to Minnesota extremely well, looking at G-Bear the whole way from your seat.   You were so excited when the truck arrived at our new house and your familiar favorites began emerging from boxes.  You now have a new room,  our large walk-in closet, and you are happy as can be.

September:  You loved your first trip to the Minnesota State Fair, riding on Daddy's shoulders for most of it!  You joined Papa in his garden, Cousin Tobi in the splash tub and miss your brother and sister on the days when they are now in school.  I am not nearly as fun as they are, and we spend many mornings in the playroom while you try to teach me the games you play with them.  We had to say goodbye to your curls so that you could get your first haircut, and you love the lollypop you get at the end.  Animal sounds are becoming your new forte, especially when it comes to lions and monkeys.  You still have so much to say that we don't understand, but we have a wonderful time pretending that we do!

October:  You were so happy during our Disney vacation celebration.  You loved meeting Winnie the Pooh and are quick to identify all the princesses by singing Ariels song for us.  Mini wheats have become one of your favorite breakfast choices, so much so that you often take it upon yourself to load more boxes in our cart during our grocery shopping trips.  It is getting colder, and you found a favorite spot to sit and play: on the kitchen floor in front of the heat vent.  You are a charming X-ray for Halloween, enjoying every minute of trick-or-treating with your siblings.  G-Bear helped you up to many houses so that you could hold out your bag, waiting patiently for each treat.  The tastiness of candy is certainly not lost on you!

November:  You are a great helper picking up leaves in the yard.  You enjoy mornings with our new babysitting friend, welcoming me home with a cheerful "hi!" each time I return.  You and E-Bear love to ride in the stroller as we walk to and from school to pick up G-Bear.  You experience your first real snow just before Thanksgiving.  "No! NO," you yelled as G-Bear lifted you up to the window to look out.  Even though you can barely walk in the thick snow by yourself, you are very clear with me that you are excited to play in the new winter wonderland.

December:  Your favorite Advent activity is definitely cooking baking.  You skipped the decorating part and went straight to eat your cookie!  On Gaudate Sunday you were baptized into the Church, a truly special occasion that you really did seem to enjoy, especially with all three of your grandparents present.   You are a great help to me in the snow, shoveling with the new snow shovel I gave you.  Christmas is a special time, as you come to recognize Santa and figure out the joy of opening presents.  You are very good at saying "Ho, ho, ho!" whenever Santa or presents come to mind.

January:  We enjoy a wonderful 12 days of Christmas with our cousins.  You go sledding for the first time and impress me with how much you enjoy it.  You love to dress up like your siblings, especially in the Woody costume.  You also love the big, stuffed bear that you received with E-Bear for Christmas.  When you aren't fighting the bear with our jousting swords, you are racing across the room and launch yourself into it, tackling the bear to the ground.  Your favorite playmate is E-Bear, whom you love to tackle and wrestle.  We start our afternoons with GG, and you quickly come to recognize the McDonalds where we pick up her lunch!

February:  You love Thomas the Train books, trips to play at the Choo Choo Bob train store, and any superhero cape you can find in our dress-up drawers.  You are "whooshing" around our house these days, either as a flying hero or a race car.  You are good at telling me when something is wrong ("Uh-oh, Mommy!") or when someone has done something that makes you mad ("AH-NE!!").  Now that I got you an Elmo toothbrush and Thomas toothpaste, you love to brush your teeth.  We finally turn your car seat around, and I wonder why we waited so long to do it--you are so happy now that you can see the world facing forward!

March:  Morning breaks in your bed with paci and blankie are becoming more common, as you still love those two buddies.  It is so fun to see you sleeping in your bed with your buddies, bottom in the air.  Your first trip on ice skates is a hit.  You love skating between Dad's legs!  You are our wild man: we often find you putting pillows on the floor so that you can jump off the couch!  But, you have a softer side too.  You love to pat my growing belly and give the "Baby" kisses now and then.  You will be a great big brother.   Your coloring is improving too.  I am enjoying many works of pencil and crayon art from you these days.

April:  You are my wiggle worm at church, my toddling man always running to keep up with your siblings.  You won't be left out of anything.  You love to grab your "bowl!", sit at the counter with G-Bear and E-Bear in the kitchen, and ask me for your favorite drink: orange juice.  You communicate quite well with us these days, whether with your growing vocabulary or the many sounds and hand motions that you have invented to make us understand.  I love the slurping sound you make when you are thirsty, the superman sound you make when you see a super hero, the monkey sound you make when you want your monkey blanket, and the way you stick out your tongue and cough when describing your recent bout of the stomach flu.

Buddy Bear, thank you for another wonderful year and all the persistence, energy, and smiles that you have brought into it.   I love the brief moments when you let me hold your hand, when you lay your head on my shoulder at church, when you snuggle with me on my bed for a story, and when you nuzzle my nose with yours.  I also love the moments when you are asserting yourself, whether letting me know that you want to walk in the snow and not be carried, letting me know that you do NOT want to come inside from playing in the snow, making it clear that you do NOT want to get in the car again, or protesting being put in your seat rather than in a big kid chair for dinner.  You are truly growing up so fast, and we are loving every minute of it.  Thank you for loving on your siblings so and for teaching your Daddy and I more about yourself everyday.  May God continue to bless you and grow you in His image.  We love you, Buddy Bear.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Outside, snow is dumping down from the sky.  
Forget the fact that the sun emerged yesterday for a few hours.  
Whatever snow melted is being rapidly replaced with a fresh new blanket.  
Aren't storms supposed to put pregnant women into labor?  
If so, why am I still plump as pudding?


The tornado sirens are going off in our neighborhood.  
I almost laughed when I heard them. 
Really?  A tornado?  During a snow storm?
It turned out to be an annual "community tornado drill."
This April has been so weird.


For three out of the past four weeks, I have had someone at home with the stomach flu or a fever.  
Surely by now, we have caught every bug imaginable, and we are now safely immune.
But then last night, Buddy Bear threw up again.
And just to prove the point, G-Bear has a fever this afternoon.
So, make that four out of the past five weeks that someone has been sick.
T went to the store last night to re-stock us with Clorox wipes,
 sanitizing spray, hand sanitizer and paper towels.
We need to clean up this house before the baby comes!


Somehow, we manage to keep our spirits high.  
Bring on the library books and Sesame Street!
Break out the color crayons and podcasts!
We'll put together puzzles and soak longer in the tub.
We're all in this together.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

April of the Surreal

So far, this has been a pretty surreal April.

It has been snowing for the past four days.  This is not one of those spring "snows" that melts as it hits the ground.  Our lawn and roofs are covered with a thick layer once again.  G-Bear made a snow man earlier this week, and it is still standing strong in our backyard of white.  We are still wearing hats, scarves and snow boots and pants to play outside.  The Twins have played several games in the snow at Target Field.  This might be the strangest "spring" I have ever experienced.

MoMo and Papa are away for a month during MoMo's stem cell transplant recovery.  In true MoMo style, she always refers to her hospital as "The Spa", but this is hardly a spa experience.  It is an understatement to say that it is strange to have a month of birthdays, Sundays, and births without MoMo and Papa around.  T and I miss them a lot, and I can tell the kids do too.  We're praying hard for MoMo as she trudges the hard road to recovery.

This week, my sister is scheduled to deliver twins.  Yes, twins!  For a few days, until our Little One arrives, she will have more children than me.  We are so excited for K and T, wishing so much that we could be with them for this exciting time.  Suddenly, my younger sister is entering parenting territory that I have never experienced.  I have nothing but confidence in her as she does it.

Today is GG Isabel's birthday, our first one without her.  It was strange to have my computer remind me this morning that her birthday is today.  We'll wish her a happy birthday in our prayers tonight rather than over the phone.  We do love you, GG Isabel.

In a few days, we will have a 6 year old, a 4 year old, a 2 year old and a newborn.  Our family of five is on the verge of transforming into a family of six.  With the addition of each new baby, a new family life is born.   A whole host of new dynamics, excitements, adventures is only a few days away.  It is always mind-blowing to look at the piles of freshly washed baby supplies and realize that they are ready for a brand new person inside me, someone we don't yet know, but one who is part of our lives forever.

In the midst of so much surreality, moments of normalcy can be tremendously comforting.  Today, as we do every Saturday, we danced in the kitchen to T's music as we made Schubert rolls for breakfast and pot pie for dinner.  Buddy Bear is becoming quite the dancer, taking after his dad and siblings.   This afternoon, we took GG out for lunch at our usual spot.  Tonight, as we got ready for bed, T and I found the Bears together on E-Bear's bed, all reading stories.

Surreal or mundane, these are the moments we're given, and these are the moments to treasure.   

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New Creation Butterflies

This week, the kids and I made one of my favorite Easter season crafts: 
New Creation Butterflies.

This craft is great for 2-6 year olds.  The materials are easy enough for little hands to manipulate, and because the craft is relatively easy to assemble, it is perfect for short attention spans.  Plus, they make a great springtime decoration!

Before starting, we read 2 Corinthians 5:17 together and talked about how God makes us new when we ask Him to come into our lives.  The kids loved the analogy of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.  They pretended the clothes pins were caterpillars munching on the tissue paper.  Then they wrapped the clothes pins in tissue (to represent cocoons) and we got to work on our craft.

Here are the materials we used:

Tissue paper in various colors
Wooden clothes pins
pipe cleaners
colored paper cut into thin strips

Begin by choosing your tissue paper.  Cut it into two squares.

Cut the pipe cleaners into 1-2 inch lengths.

Pinch the tissue paper in the middle and insert into the mouth of the clothes pin, followed by the pipe cleaner.  Then glue a colored paper strip to the clothes pin and write part of 2 Corinthians 5:17, 'In Christ we are a new creation!'

Then, let your butterflies take flight!

Pretty soon, our dining room was full of butterflies.

Thanks to G-Bear and E-Bear for their hard work.  Our home is full of butterflies, ready for spring.

Lord, thank you for making all things new!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sixth Birthday Party for G-Bear

She beams, she glows, 
she's the official six-year-old in our house!
A beaming G-Bear at her birthday party.
On Saturday, we hosted Uncle Carl, Uncle C, GG, and Aunt Cindy for G-Bear's "Jasmine" birthday party.  We decorated the living room with stars and streamers, as well as coloring pages courtesy of the birthday girl and her brothers.  The table was decked and ready for the guests, complete with a lovely cake from our neighborhood bakery (a wise decision--I was way too wimpy to try to make a jasmine cake myself).  G-Bear loved her cake!

G-Bear received several thoughtful presents from her family members, including a handmade Jasmine headband from our talented cousin M, as well as new clothes and accessories for her most beloved Baby Doll from MoMo and Papa.  Baby Doll also received my old baby doll bed, which G-Bear was photographed in when she was 2 weeks old.  

G-Bear in my baby doll bed at 2 weeks old.
This weekend she received the bed as a gift for her baby dolls!

Can you believe how much our girl has grown?!

G-Bear, E-Bear and Buddy Bear, opening the baby doll bed.

The only one more excited than G-Bear about the Baby Doll bed and accessories was Buddy Bear.  :)  Do you think this little guy is ready to be a big brother? 

T and I also gave G-Bear several of my childhood toys, including a wooden puppet theater and wooden puppets.  Seeing G-Bear enjoy the new toy with her brothers made me appreciate MoMo's talent and thoughtful efforts in buying such high quality toys so many years ago.   It is wonderful to see a new generation enjoy these toys as much as I did.

We had a super fun Arabian Night.  Thanks to all of our family for their kind efforts to help us make G-Bear's celebration special!