Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our Simple, (mostly) Homemade Christmas Gifts

Everyone got mama-made pajamas for Christmas Eve, including Daddy!

I got Toby's stocking done in the nick of time (Christmas Eve), so his joined the line-up on the couch (maybe someday we'll have a place to hang them up!).

We like to leave one fun item sticking out of the stocking, unwrapped.  All the kids received two fun gifts, two more practical gifts, and then two treats.

I made Joanna a tutu and a ribbon ring for her fun gifts.

I made Ezra a knight's helmet (from this tutorial) and a tool belt.

Toby received a teething necklace (okay, so that's sort of for me, too!), a teething toy, booties, and Mum Mums.  (My favorite baby snack - I can't believe he's almost ready for them!)  I made all of his gifts but the Mum Mums.

I couldn't think of any fun things to make for Benjamin that he would really enjoy, but he really wanted a toy dragon, so we found a Playmobil one for him.  He got a fun dragon book for his second fun gift.

For their practical gifts all the kids got a fleece pillowcase and a kid's kitchen knife.  I'm hoping to have them all help me a bit more in the kitchen this year, so these should be fun.

Along with their stockings, we like to do one gift under the tree - so far we've always done one large joint gift for the kids, although that will probably change as they grow older and like different things!

 This year, Seth made them this awesome seesaw, from this tutorial.  This will be fun to have in the yard!  The boys are a bit too nervous to use it, but Joanna loved it!

We had a fun time opening all our gifts!  Homemade, simple, and fun - everyone was happy!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Bathroom Renovations

Finally, after two years, our bathroom is under construction!  We knew when we bought our house that we would have to redo the bathroom, so it's exciting to have it actually happen!  Having only one bathroom makes it a bit tricky to remodel, but we're surviving!  =)  A couple of months ago Seth started to tear out what he could without rendering the bathroom unusable, and then he and his dad spent the week of Thanksgiving doing as much work as they could.  We haven't had a real bathroom since then, because they're now really only able to work on it an evening or two and one weekend day each week, but we're getting by with a porta potty and sponge baths!  We still have a ways to go on the bathroom - although we're definitely on the downhill slope now, with most of the repair work done and mostly just the "putting the room together" stuff left.  We are so thankful that his dad knows how to do remodeling work (and that he's willing to help us!), since hiring someone to do this would have been way out of our budget.  This way is requiring lots of time and work, but we'll have been able to do it fairly inexpensively.

We had to fix some of the plumbing anyway, so Seth and his dad moved the hot water heater from the kids' room into the laundry room, as well as redoing most of the other pipes, too.  It's nice to know that's all new and clean!

Moving the hot water heater gave us an extra closet in the kids' room, which will be great for storage!

The bathroom at the beginning of the "Project Week".

We had to tear it down to the studs, since it had
water damage that needed to be fixed.  Thankfully,
the damage wasn't as bad as it could have been.
The floor had to go, too.  It's always interesting to
learn things about your house - that bare spot in the
back wall used to be a window.

This is what our bathroom looks like right now.  The studs have all been fixed or replaced, and we have the new subfloor down.  Next up is to finish bringing the plumbing up from under the house into the bathroom, and then we'll be able to put the wallboard up (I say "we" like I'm actually involved!).  We can't wait to have a bathroom again someday! =)

Snow Day!

We woke up to snow this morning - just a little when Seth and I got up, but a couple of inches by the time the kids were up!  They didn't really eat breakfast they were so excited to go outside!  It is no small feat to get four kids (and myself) ready to go out in the snow, but at least this year we were out for half an hour or so, a bit longer than the 10 or 15 minutes they were out last winter!  It is so fun to have snow at Christmas time; it makes everything so festive!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Pictures

It's been a bit crazy around here lately - more on that soon - but for now, here are the pictures I included on our Christmas card this year.  I've been planning on taking Christmas pictures for weeks, and it just hadn't happened yet.  Then, yesterday morning, everyone was all dressed up for the kid's Christmas program at church, and by some miracle, we had five minutes to spare, so I took the chance and got a few pictures.  Thankfully, they turned out well, and I was able to put some cards together last night - just in time to get them mailed before Christmas!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My Five Year Old

Benjamin's birthday was on Tuesday.

It is crazy to think that I actually have a FIVE-YEAR-OLD!  Someone half a decade, someone almost old enough for school...it hardly seems possible.  He's a bit bigger than the baby we brought home five years ago:

Benjamin is such a special little boy.  He is SUCH a sweetheart - a very cuddly and loving little boy.  He is great at sharing and helping his siblings, and he is becoming a great help to me!  He is quite detail-oriented and interested in facts.  He has a great imagination and is NOISY!  He constantly has his own little soundtrack going!  His favorite toy right now is LEGO.

Age Two

He is so excited to be five!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Out and About (and the places that make it easier)

I am a total homebody - I love being home, and we're home all day most days.  But it's also good for us to get out a bit now and then - it's nice to have a change of pace and the kids love the adventure of it.  It doesn't always happen, but it's my goal to get out of the house at least once a week.  It's kind of funny - while it certainly isn't easy to take four little kids somewhere, somehow it sometimes seems easier to get out than it did when I had just two.  Definitely a lot has to do with being able to load the kids in the car right outside the door rather than down a flight of stairs and around the building as I had to when we were in an apartment (and I can't even talk about the horror of leaving something essential in the apartment and only realizing it after I had both kids buckled in the car - that did happen a couple of times!).

In some ways it's easier because I have some older kids who are definitely more self-sufficient (of course, that adds in other challenges, too...).  And since the kids are older, they want to go places, which encourages me to get out, too.  Back then I'd often think we'd do more "when it's easier" (ha!), and of course now I know it's never going to get easier, so we either have to do things even though it can be hard, or we will never do anything.

One huge factor, though, in us being able to get out and about is having places we can go.  Having several little kids and a baby means I can really only go places where I can keep an eye on all of them and nurse the baby at the same time, if necessary.  That rules out a lot of places, but we've found several that fit that criteria.  Our library has an open playgroup every week where we can go and play with toys there.  We enjoy going to story time at the library, too, but that can be tricky if the baby is fussy, so this works better for us for now.  We just discovered the brand new play area at our local mall.  It's an enclosed area and is never very busy, so this is something I expect to do fairly regularly from now on.  And, over the summer we discovered an awesome park.  It's a small park, with a small (but big enough!) playground and a small grassy area, it is never busy, and it's fully fenced!  Obviously we won't be able to go there all the time in the winter, but it's perfect for when we can!

Having a few places that makes it easier for me to get out and about with the kids has been such a blessing!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Three Months

Tobias is three months now - can't time just slow down a little bit?

This little man is the sweetest thing ever - I know I've said that about all of my babies, but it's like Marilla says in Anne of Avonlea: "Every baby is the sweetest and the best."  That is so true.  Toby is such a joy!  We love him so!

Thursday, November 7, 2013


I have to say I am sooo glad October is over.  I don't remember having that crazy of a month in a long time.  Seth is back into the full swing of school, and since this is his last quarter, he's also been spending a lot of time hunting and applying for jobs.  I, of course, had the normal full-time job of taking care of four kids and a house (the laundry these days - it's ridiculous!), but I was also extremely busy sewing for the bazaar I was in at the end of the month.  I really enjoy participating in the bazaar; it just made for some crazy weeks this year.  If I had been on top of things, I would have had that stuff done long ago, but I didn't, so it was definitely a scramble.  I'm so thankful Toby is such an easy baby, or I never would have finished it all!  Speaking of Toby, a couple of weeks ago we found out he has two hernias that will require surgery sometime in the coming months.  Poor little guy.  Then Ezra was sick for several days.  And, on top of all that, we've definitely been going through some new-baby adjustments with the older kids.  I think we've run the whole gamut of things - from attention seeking to potty issues to meltdowns to plain old defiance to bickering amongst themselves.  I don't think it helped that Mommy and Daddy were busier than usual, either.  Sooo...anyway, here's to a better November!  It hasn't started off awesome, since almost everyone has a cold right now and is not feeling great, but it will get better!  =)

And lest you think October was all bad, here are some pictures to prove that we did have some fun, too!

We went to the pumpkin farm...


Then, of course, we had to carve one of our pumpkins!

The kids were getting ideas from one of our new favorite fall
books: Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White

Although we don't go Trick-or-Treating ourselves, we enjoy handing out candy to those that come to our house.  The kids have been looking forward to the "costume guys" coming for weeks.  We got dressed up, too, for fun.