Saturday, December 29, 2012

Walkin' the Line

Joe has been getting some really great reports from his teacher at school.  She said he is using the walker independently in class. We are all making an effort to encourage Joe to be more independent and mobile.

Its difficult to do so when I am alone with the kids but anytime I have an extra adult with me we are challenging Joe to take steps either with his walker or while holding our hands.
Communication progress seems to be slow.  But we are seeing some improvements here as well.  Joe is using a few signs and also some augmentative communication devices to help him tell us what he needs/wants and we hope to be moving on to more advanced devices in the future.

Recently Joe has demonstrated the ability to climb onto Nate's bed (and subsequently pull the curtains down) and to take his shirt off (in the middle of a restaurant).  Both great skills to have... just ones that need to be used with restraint that Joe does not yet possess.  ;-)

We are proud of the work he is doing and we pray that God will continue to help Joe grow in strength and abilities throughout the coming year.

“Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, And looks to God alone; Laughs at impossibilities,
 And cries it shall be done.” ~ Charles Wesley

"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds."
- Edward Abbey

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Very Crafty Christmas!

I decided to make gifts for some of our family this year.  I am pleased with how they turned out, and my family seemed happy too.  What more could I ask?  Here are a few of the things I made this year.

some stockings

a couple of fort kits for my nephews

diaper bag for one of my sisters

a jumper/dress for Christine made from two adult women's shirts (I am kicking myself for not getting step by step pic of it!)

It was fun making special things for my family.  But procrastination did lead to a stressful few days right before Christmas.  I am hoping to get a head start next year!  ;-)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Tidings

We have had a very busy but blessed year.  On top of the usual busyness and chaos we were flooded with major life events in our family in what felt like a very short time.  We have two divorces going on in the family.  We have had family members in the hospital, some have passed away.  But there were also exciting life events too.  My husband started a new job that he loves.  Two of my sisters got married.  Two of my sisters had babies...  Its been an eventful year for us!

Because of the busyness (or my laziness) I opted not to write a Christmas letter this year.  And for our card I used the pictures we had taken in the spring instead of taking new ones... I know, I'm such a slacker.  ;-)  But here is what our Christmas card looked like.

Do they come any cuter than that?  ;-)  And another thing I did differently is I only sent cards to the people who sent us one.   I have a stack of pre-stuffed envelopes on standby and when a card came in I addressed one to them and sent it out. Last year I realized how many of the people I was sending cards to were not reciprocating and I figured this was as good a way as any to cut back.  

Thanks for following along or stopping by.  I am happy to share a bit of our crazy life with you all.

The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, "The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!" (NASB) - Lamentations 3:22-24

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Fiction Fans...

As some of you may know I am a fan of the Twilight Saga books and movies, and also the Hunger Games trilogy and movie.   Below is a picture of my gal Jess and I the night we went with some friends to see the final Twilight movie... sigh... in a way, I hate to see it end... in another, I felt it was satisfying to see it come to a close.  As it always is when entertainment is concerned, we're on to the next thing.

And for a lot of us Twilight and Hunger Games fans the next thing could be one (or if you are me, ALL) of the following:
Divergent Trilogy - Summary: In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

Matched Series - Summary: In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.  Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one… until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow — between perfection and passion.

Beautiful Creatures Series - Summary: Ethan Wate is haunted by dreams of a girl he’s never met. When Lena Duchannes moves into his small southern town of Gatlin County, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her. And he is determined to uncover the strange connection between them, even if it means uncovering the one secret that could change everything.

 I have personally read two or more in each of the above series.  They all have engaging and creative characters that grabbed my attention and kept me interested in what might happen to them next.  I love watching the relationships develop between characters throughout a series.  I really enjoyed the worlds the authors created as the backdrops for their tales.  The contrast of these worlds with my own is compelling.  As a SAHM I find that I kind of like being able to disappear into a world completely unlike my own once in awhile and these books provide that sort of escape for me.  I would not recommend reading Matched and Divergent back to back because of their similarities.  They kind of blur together for me when I think about them now.  ;-)  Maybe read something totally unrelated between them or something.  A little non-fiction maybe?   
 Both Divergent and Beautiful Creatures are being made into movies currently.  I will definitely be looking forward to seeing those stories come to life on the big screen! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Far From Miserable!

I was excited to get invited to a screening of the new musical Les Miserables.  This time I took my girlfriend with me.  My hubs wasn't as into Les Mis as she is.  I think I saw an older version when I was in high school and a friend was obsessed with musicals.  And I may have seen the non musical version that was released in 1998.  But its been awhile and while I know the gist of it... its kind of like seeing it for the first time.

Brief Synopsis: In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's daughter, Cosette. The fateful decision changes their lives forever.

I was truly blown away by the weight of this movie.  Any expectations that I had were surpassed.  It was a cinematic feast to the eyes.  The scene was set so well throughout the film.  And it was cast perfectly.  Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway gave compelling performances, both of them bringing me to tears.  They were supported by Amanda Seyfried, Russell Crowe and Eddie Redmayne who all were excellent as well.  Some of these actors I was unaware that they sang and was pleasantly surprised at how well they did.

One thing that I did not quite buy was the love at first sight between Cosette and Marius. Their performances were very good.  I just am not a love at first sight girl.  I wish they had been given an opportunity to establish their relationship.  And the girl that played Eponine seemed to modern to me.  She did not quite fit in to the period the way everyone else did.

There were a couple of times when I was inclined to wish there was some ordinary talking instead of the start to finish singing... but they music and the performances were so riveting that I forgot about my "need" for dialogue and was carried away by the story.

This movie will be the talk of the Oscars, the Globes, you name it!  Excellent performances by the cast, propelled by the perfectly set scenes make this a musical of epic proportions.  I will be watching it again!

Monday, December 17, 2012

4 Gifts

My husband and I have been trying to find ways to simplify our Christmas gift giving.  In particular with our kids.  By the time we have Christmas with his family and my family and us... its kind of an overload of  toys and frivolous things that are nice but do not necessarily add value to our lives or the holiday.  Its just stuff.
Obviously as a parent I want to give my children gifts.  But I don't want them to grow up feeling like that is what the Christmas season is about.  My husband and I are trying to downplay the gifts and bring the focus back to Christ.  One way we are doing that is limiting the gifts to four things.  I found this idea on Pinterest here and also this post.  I love this idea.  Here is the breakdown of what the gifts will be for our kids.

Want - He is a huge Lego fan but I knew others would be buying him Lego sets so I wanted something that would interest him in the same way but still be a little different.  I got a good deal on a box of Knex on Amazon.  Nate has never owned any of these before but they seem like something that he would really enjoy.
Need - Nate has started to take his bible to church lately and frankly its ending up on the dirty floor of the van from time to time.  So, I thought that now would be a good time for him to get a bible cover.  I thought about making one but I want to make sure it can withstand the abuse of a sever year old boy so my husband is picking one out at the Christian bookstore.
Wear - Nate is pretty set for clothes for the most part.  But he likes to dress up for church and I have a nice dress coat that I got at Old Navy a couple of seasons ago and is just now the size he needs so he will be getting a nice big boy coat.
Read - I got a great deal at Half Price Books on a copy of Fun With Nature: Take Along Guide.  It was only a couple of bucks in the clearance section.  Nate will enjoy learning about nature and using the book to help him explore on trips to the park.

Want - Well, frankly its hard to tell what Joe (or Christine) really wants.  But I do my best.  He loves doors of any kind.  He will sit and open and close cabinet doors just for fun.  He's a funny kid like that.  So, that being said I found a Melissa and Doug Farm Hide and Seek on sale awhile back.  I think it seems like something he will like.  I hope I'm right!  ;-)
Need - I thought about getting Joe some pants because he burns holes in the knees faster than any kid I've ever met.  But I know a couple family members will be getting him pants already.  So, I had to get creative.  Since we haven't really advanced very far developmentally we kind of get bored of "therapy" toys before out-growing them.  So its always fun to get a few new ones in the mix.  I got this Melissa and Doug Bug catching magnetic puzzle on Amazon when Melissa and Doug stuff was half off.  It'll be good for fine motor skills and for matching.
Wear - Typically I am a "wear clothing more than one day" kind of person.  But since Joe attends school I don't really feel I can get away with that for him, especially with shirts (I can get away with having him wear pants a couple of days).  So, I have another Old Navy clearance deal with a cute long sleeve t-shirt with a screen sprinted necktie on it.  So cute!
Read - Joe is only minimally interested in having books read to him.  He is still pretty grabby and honestly, we don't do it all that often because he doesn't get into it and won't sit still well.  But when I saw this book at HPB I cracked up laughing and had to buy it.  I know, I'm a dork.  ;-)

Want -Awhile ago we got Christine to attempt to pretend she said "hello" into a phone.  Now, even though we haven't been able to get her to do it lately we want to encourage that kind of play and she enjoys toys that makes sounds and play music.  So I got her this adorable Fisher Price smart phone.  It looks like daddy's droid!  Sort of.  ;-)
Need -  I have seen Christine's therapists use chunky crayons (that are easier to grasp) and figured that would be a good therapy tool to have at the house for both her and Joe.  I found this set at Home Goods for $5.
Wear - I have a small stash of clothes for her to wear this summer but not a lot.  So, again with the Old Navy clearance deals (have I mentioned that I Christmas shop over the summer?)... I have a couple of outfits that I got at like 75-90% off.  Technically it adds up to be more than one thing... but we'll let it slide.  Little girl clothes are way more fun to buy than boys'... just sayin.  ;-)
Read -  Drawings and illustrations are great but I feel like Christine really benefits more from real pictures of things.  So I found a cute counting board book for her that has actual pictures instead of illustrations.

Well, it may be simple to some but we would rather have a simple heartfelt Christmas than an overspent, stressful and commercialized holiday season.  This is just a small step toward having a more Christ centered Christmas. What things do you like to do to make Christmas meaningful for your friends and family?

    Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NASB)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Win Win!

My mom won some Colts tickets a few weeks ago and is not a football fan so she let us use them!  My friend and I had not been to a professional football game before and Isaac had never been to Lucas Oil Stadium.  We had a blast!

The coach of the Colts is battling cancer right now and there were tons of Chuck Strong supporters there.  A couple of the Colts Cheerleaders shaved their heads to raise money for cancer research.  Beautiful bald ladies!
It was a great game.  And the home team won!  What more could we ask for?  ;-)  Thanks to my mom for hooking us up with the tickets!  It was a great day!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Hobbit Movie Review

While I never read the books as a kid, I have really enjoyed the Lord of the Rings Trilogy movies.  When I heard they were doing The Hobbit I was excited (I thought it was weird to do the LOTR trilogy first, but whatever).  Just a few weeks ago we listened to The Hobbit audio book in the car on our road trip to visit family.  I may have fallen asleep, but I blame the long car ride, not the book!  But my husband said the book was very good.  And I liked the parts I was awake for.  ;-)  When I was invited to attend a screening of course I said yes!

In case you are not familiar with the story, here is what its about:
Bilbo Baggins is swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers. Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever ... Gollum. Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum's "precious" ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities ... Written by Production 

Isaac and I attended the screening together last night and both were excited to see it.  We consider ourselves to be a couple of movie buffs and enjoy critiquing whatever films we see.

I hadn't realized that the screening was in 3D until we arrived.  I was a little nervous because when we saw Avatar in 3D it kind of made me sick, at the very least was distracting and annoying throughout the movie...  however I was pleasantly surprised that it was not the case this time.  I found the detail to be amazing.  The images were so crisp and clear through the whole film.

My overall reaction to the film is very impressed.  I am a big fan of the LOTR movies and it is great to see them treating The Hobbit with the same respect and care to details.  The fantastical scenes they set completely came to life and the characters moved the story along beautifully.  The villains were evil and scary as they should be.  I jumped in my seat a few times.  While I found the ending to be appropriate... I was left wanting more!  I am thoroughly anticipating the next installment of the Hobbit movies. 

Here is a fitting quote from the book: "To say that Bilbo's breath was taken away is no description at all.".  That is how I feel about the movie.  The Hobbit is another wonderful adventure in Middle Earth that I could watch again and again!

Monday, December 10, 2012


A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure to take some friends to the Indianapolis Zoo while they were visiting from out of town.  Usually for Christmas every year we get a family pass that we use all year long.  We have alternated getting the zoo pass and a membership to the Indianapolis Children's Museum.  Whether we are getting the zoo or the museum membership, I like to spend the extra $20 (give or take) and get a "plus 2" pass that allows us to bring guests with us when we go.  Totally worth the extra money!

Joe was taking some awesome steps for me!  He even walked across this little swinging bridge holding onto my hands!  So proud of the hard work he's been doing!
Here are our friends with their sons... aren't they cute?  ;-)
Yet one more cute pix of Christine with her namesake.  They are buddies!

 And of course our traditional picture on the rock.  I don't know why this has become our "spot" but it has and we take our picture here nearly every time we go.  Its crazy to see how big my kiddos have gotten since we first started this tradition!  ;-)  Love those faces!

Friday, December 07, 2012

Life Skills

Life seems to have been really busy lately.  We have times when we're on a roll and things are going smoothly... and then something happens and gets us off track again.  One of the things I have been working on is motivating Nate to help out around the house.  Some chores he does on a daily basis and others are done on what I like to call Life Skills Days.  Maybe once a month or so we will have an LSD and in lieu of our usual school day we will clean house together and he will work on jobs that he needs instruction or assistance with.  
A few of the skills we have been working on lately are: wiping down surfaces with cleaning wipes, scrubbing the toilets, sweeping the kitchen floor, collecting the laundry, taking care of toys, putting clean laundry away, emptying the dishwasher, dusting, wiping doorknobs and banister, wiping down kitchen chairs, etc.  
I have found some really great lists of age appropriate chores and chore chart ideas on Pinterest.  While I have tried some cute and clever chore charts we are currently using a really basic method of rewarding his chores.  We have Dollar Store charts that he fills in the boxes w/ smiley faces whenever he completes a job.  When he fills the whole chart he can choose from a prize in the prize box (mostly Dollar Store stuff) or $3 cash.  Its not fancy, but for now it works.

While he has times when he is resistant, Nate is growing up and taking on new responsibilities rather well.  He is full of a constant stream of curious questions that sometimes drive me completely batty, but if it came down to it I would not wish that he lose his inquisitive nature.  Just maybe put it on pause once in awhile.  ;-)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”  -  Ephesians 6:1-3

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

On the Move

I wish I had more video for you but alas, I do not.  Christine has been gaining in speed and strength since the last update.  She is really getting the hang of the crawling thing.  She has a little bounce in her step and sometimes she has a bit of a hop resembling Joe's but she is reciprocating her knees (which Joe has never done) most of the time.  

While we are not getting actual words out of her, Christine is babbling a lot lately and making all sorts of sounds.  She is very interactive and engaging.
Christine recently got new orthotics.  The little ones on the left are the ones she was wearing before.  As you can see, the new ones are much larger and more cumbersome.  I wondered if they might slow her down but it seems I worried for nothing because Christine is still crawling all over the place.  The purpose of the new braces is to keep her from back-kneeing while she is working on standing/walking.  She is working hard with her PT and is taking some assisted steps.  Hopefully the support of the new orthotics will help her to make some progress in this area.  The worst part about these braces was finding shoes to fit over them!  ;-)  Thank goodness for resale shops!

She is for the most part a very happy girl.  Though she is still proving to be a very sympathetic soul and cries anytime anyone (mostly Joe) is upset.  I am hopeful that this behavior develops into a fine character trait someday... for now, its just rather exhausting. 

For all the drama she creates, Christine is a joy to be around.  She loves and is loved by everyone she is around.  There is no better way to start your day than to see her smiling face.  

"For I am confident of this very thing,
that He who began a good work in you
will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 1:6, NASB)