Sigh.  You had another birthday.  Didn’t you just have one last year?  Didn’t you just turn five?  Sometimes I feel like I’m playing tug of war with you kids’ growing up.  Most of the time, I feel like I’m being slung forward by growing up.  Even on the hard days.

You’re six now.  Hard to believe.  You seem so grown up.  You ask all kinds of questions, about life, death, God, Heaven- important things.  But yet you still definitely are a child, what with your ability to be silly at the drop of a hat.  I’m trying to enjoy even that, because I know one day you’ll not crack up with the mention of the word, “CLOWN!”  Seriously, you and your sister think the word, “clown,” is the funniest thing ever.  As in:

“God, thank you for our food.  A- CLOWN”


“Nora….        CLOWN!”


“Twinkle, twinkle, little, CLOWN”

Anyway, we started your day off with some cartoons.  One of your favorites.


Then you opened up your birthday dress, with your birthday ribbon.  You loved the ribbon and wore it to church the next day.



So lovely.



Then we opened cards.


This one was your favorite.  And apparently Nora’s too.


I took you out to lunch, just me and you.  It was so fun.  Before we went to lunch, we walked to the toy store and you picked out a new toy with the $20 that you were given by your great grand parents.  You looked very carefully at everything and made your choice wisely.  You ended up getting a new polly pocket ice cream water park.

You requested a ham sandwich for lunch.  You sat and carefully studied your new toy while I got our food.  You decided to wait and open your polly pockets at home so that you wouldn’t lose any pieces.  5 year old Alanna would have ripped it open at the table.  You’re growing up…

As we walked home on a street near ours, you looked up and said, “Mommy, it’s like we’re on an airplane and the city is inside with us.”  For some reason I really liked that.

We had a birthday party for you- we decorated ice cream.


We spent like a total of $10 on decorations.  I had the ribbon and we bought the table cloth.  My poor friend Roni… lots of thanks for all of the ribbon curling that she did (you can’t see all of it in this picture).




I found these little ice cream bubbles at Target that we also used as place holders.


Our ice cream toppings.  FYI, jelly beans don’t work so well with ice cream.


Look!  I was at the party too!  At least my eyelashes were… and my hands.


Then we played pin the cherry on the ice cream.



And then we sang.  You made your embarrassed face while we sang.  So cute.



Yay for new friends.


You got a, “Where’s Waldo,”  book.


Aunt Janna totally had a flashback…  don’t be surprised if you find, “Where’s Waldo,” upstairs at Aunt Janna’s house…


Ms. Roni got you a super cool art book.  You sure do love Ms. Roni.



Then we went out to the driveway and blew bubbles.  And ran off some of that sugar high.

Yay for old friends too.



Your sister chose a…. special outfit.




Bubbles are just so fun.


Nora agrees.


Then Ms. Roni made faces at you girls through the window.  And you thought that was even funnier than…      “CLOWN!”



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and then you turned 4

I vividly remember the day you were born.  In Scotland.  They put us in the prenatal ward because the antenatal ward was empty.  There were pregnant women coming in and out of that ward to be tested for this and that.  They all ooed and awed over you.  You were tiny.

That night, all of the pregnant women were gone.  Just you and me in the corner of that room, behind our 80s patterned curtain.  It was quiet.  And I’m pretty sure that the nurses forgot about us back there in that corner.  But I didn’t care.  You went to sleep and so did I.  I enjoyed all of that time that I got to spend with you.  Of course, the pediatrician woke us up at 6:00.

We left for home after lunch.  It was very quiet.  Just you me and your dad left the hospital.  No American wheelchair to push me out, we walked to the car pushing you in your infant seat locked in the stroller.  It was sweet- just the three of us.

Your memmie and your sister were at home to greet you.  Alanna drew a picture for you and hung it on the front door.  When we brought you inside, she pointed at you and said, “Baby!”

I cannot believe that that was four years ago.

So here we are now in Boston, you’ve lived in 4 houses during your 4 years of life.

Our day started with opening a present after breakfast.  You had asked for your, “very own pet.”  You were specific in wanting a black dog.  A real one.  I promptly told you that you got a little brother instead of your very own pet.  You seemed satisfied with that, so I got you your very own mechanical pet that shakes it head and wags its tail.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t even handle a mechanical pet that made noise, so you ended up with the smaller version that only moves.


You were pretty happy with it.


You requested a yellow theme birthday party (your favorite color), so that’s what we went for.  We had a tea party and invited two of your friends.  It was wonderfully girlie.  And oh, you wore this really intense flower headband.  When you are 21 and are wondering what the heck is on your head, just know that I didn’t think it would be that big in comparison to your head size in the store.  I’m hoping that you won’t insist on wearing it everyday.  I guess though, what 4th birthday would be complete without a garish flower on your head?

We planned on making place mats for the tea party with your guests.


Memmie and I made this cake for you.  From scratch.  5 layers.  Each layer a different color.  Sit and ponder the awesomeness of this feat for a few moments…



You were brave to stand in the snow for a few minutes so I could get a picture of your birthday outfit.  You are in love with skirts at the moment.


“One, two….”




“I’m FOUR!”


At some point around here, I stopped you in the hall and hugged you.  Apparently it was too hard of a hug because you kind of groaned, wiggled your way out of my arms, and skipped down the hall.  You were so excited for this day.

Gotta love decor on a budget.


Your guests arrived and the place mats were a hit.  You girls had buttons, feathers, sequin ribbon, and scraps of paper to make your place mats.


And then it was time for tea.  You girls looked so cute with your grown up tea cups.  And no one spilled.  WIN.


Gotta love this ring.  Adorable.




Time for the song.




Your cake.  I will have to take a picture of a slice in natural light, because this lighting just doesn’t do it justice…


Present time!

You got an awesome set of beads,


a leotard for gymnastics (you’ve been telling everyone today that you get to start gymnastics and start making your bed now that you’re four.).


You also got a critter car,


a new baby from Memmie, some rockin’ tinkerbell gear, and some Disney princess polly pockets.


And then there was the birthday carnage.


I love you little Nora.  You’re so special to me.

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Oh Christmas Tree

I may officially be a real tree convert.  Last year was our first year getting a real one.  Namely because we didn’t have our tree from Scotland (we were waiting on things to arrive from being shipped overseas).  Now, come to think of it, even we had had our stuff, we still wouldn’t have had the tree, because we ended leaving in Scotland since it wouldn’t fit in our massive container.

I think back to last year this time and I had a newborn in an empty house in Nashville and had only been in the states for a few weeks.  Have I mentioned that that’s sooooooo hard to believe???

Anyway, we went looking for our tree yesterday.  It was so cold.  So very cold.  But we had a lot of fun… we even got to count the rings on the trunk of our tree to see how old it is.  10 years.

Cole had a little feel (and maybe even a taste…. mmmmm, piney) to help us decide on just the right tree.


We decided on this one.  Can you tell? Cole apparently thought the ones on the other side tasted better.


I am so stinking in love with Cole’s hat.  He wasn’t a fan at first, but now that he’s worn it a few times, he asks me to put it on him while we’re in the house.

He learned how to say please a few months ago.  So it went like this… I would say, “Cole, say, ‘please,'” and he would say, “Peeeesh.”  And then I would say, “Hear ya go.” So now, when I say, “Cole, say, ‘please,'” he says, “Hear ya go.”

So, he walks up to me with his hat and says, “Hear ya go.”  LOVE it.


On another note, “Fattttt guy, in a littlllle coat….”  (Always, *always* makes me think of my cousin, that song).


And I saved the very best picture for last.  I asked the guy handling the trees if he could take a family picture for us.  I forgot to mention that the family was more important than the tree.  Am I ever so glad the he got alllll of the Christmas tree in.  Nora’s chin wasn’t so fortunate…


Makes me laugh every time I look at.

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True to my word

Not really.   I didn’t get to the blog yesterday.  😦  😦 😦 😦  Lots of frownies.

I’m pretty crazy tired, but I thought I’d post a short little funny story so that I don’t forget it in the future.

While Adam’s mom was here, she bought my kids this rice krispy treat made with fruit loops.  So, not rice krispies, only fruit loops. The girls saw it on the kitchen counter and said,  “Mommy, can we have some of those colorful cheerios?”

They’ve apparently never had fruit loops before (not a totally conscience choice, we just tend to steer more towards the cheerios I guess).

I wish I had time to write down every single little funny and/ or cute thing that they say.  It’s amazing how quickly you forget those little moments throughout the day.

Anyway, here’s a picture for you that’s completely unrelated.  But it’s one of my favorites right now.  You may have already seen it on facebook, but here goes anyway (sorry, flickr made it look wayyyy too sharp, but I still love it).


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Why I don’t blog anymore (well, before this week anyway)

We started homeschooling this year.  And that’s why I don’t blog anymore.


But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Being on this journey has been so amazing.  In so many ways.

And before you go thinking that I’m all super mom and stuff… sooooooo not true.  And I’d like to take a moment and tell you how I got over myself and decided to homeschool.

But even before I do that, I’d like to say that I totally recognize that homeschooling is not for everyone.  And it’s not for every child.

And I’d like to say that I totally recognize that there are many people out there that will think that I am a total nut job for wanting to homeschool my children.

Anyway… onto our decision (“our,” being Adam included, because yeah, he’s a part of picture too).

I’m a loner.  I grew up an only child.  I crave being alone.  Seriously, my idea of a fun time is like cleaning my house (by.myself. I don’t need your helpthankyouverymuch), playing my piano for hours on end (oh, I was a music major in college… further indicating my loner-ness), or working on some crazy martha stewart craft project.  That likely won’t work.

I have a love hate relationship with Martha Stewart and her craft projects.   More hate because my version of Martha’s projects never turn out like the picture in the magazine.  Grrrrrrrrrrrr…

My loner personality is not conducive to homeschooling.  AKA, having three little people around me allllllll day long.

In other words, there was a part of me that had to die (pretty extreme I know) in order to make this work.  And that’s okay.  I will say, for me, the biggest shift as been this:  prior to starting homeschooling,  my days were ordered around when am I going to get my alone time.  When do I get to meet my needs. I mean, I met my kids needs happily, and had LOTS of fun in the process, but deep down in there,  I was often waiting for nap time with baited breath.  Hurrying them along at bath time to get them in bed.  So that I could recharge.

(I’d like to take this moment to report that this is not my proudest moment ever. But I like to be honest, so there you go).

My personality, well really, just ME, was the biggest hurdle to get over in regards to choosing whether or not to homeschool.

Homeschooling has been so good for me (and hopefully the kids too).  No, I don’t have a nice long nap/ rest time to get things done.  No, I don’t get to play the piano as much, take naps, clean the house when I want to,  read the books I have stacked up on my desk to read, spend time with people outside of my family as much as I want to,  call friends on the phone.  Or blog.

But, these little people are going to be grown before I know it. I’m so glad that I get to be with them during these years.  I get to tailor their education based on what their interests are,  what they like and don’t like,  what their personalities are bent to.

Now, that’s just one facet to my decision to homeschool.  There are faith based reasons and discontent with the public school system that also led me to homeschool.

So, onto some pictures.  And before you go thinking that it’s all puppies and roses with some granola on top over here… there are days that are great (most days in fact), and then there are days that are oh so not great.  I’ve realized so far (you know, in my very vast knowledge of homeschooling over the past 4 months), that anything that is worthwhile doing, will not only have tremendous blessing, but will also take tremendous work and sometimes frustration and discouragement.

Alanna has been working very hard on holding her pencil.  🙂  I love watching her write.  She’s started to write her own stories now, which is sooooooo precious.


I don’t have many picture of Alanna doing school for this post (sad!), but I thought I’d share what I do with the little guys while I’m doing school with Alanna.  That seems to be the question I get asked most.

Nora is adamant about a few things.  Her toe sock seams and that she needs to be doing school just like her sister.

She has her very own box filled with things to do.  She has her own notebook.  And the funny thing is, she’s just picked up stuff watching her sister.  This is her little notebook.  She wrote, “cat,” all on her own.  (Sorry, proud mom). 


Cole is at a tricky age for homeschooling right now.  The majority of school happens during his nap, but we try to squeeze a bit in in the mornings.  I’ve made a few things for him to do with us at the table, because he often gets fussy being on the floor by himself.  Usually he and Nora play at the table while I’m schooling Alanna, and then he and Alanna go and play on the floor while I “school” Nora (which doesn’t take very long… 15 minutes tops).

Here’s a fun little game.  I cut a slit on the top of this can, and they drop stuff like dried pasta and pencil erasers in the top.  They make a really fun plinky sound when they drop in there.


Alanna does reading, writing, and math for Kindergarten.  She also enjoys little sorting games and the like.  This one involves using tweezers to put pony beads in leftover medicine cups (I always have an abundance of those things!!).


Those things take some dexterity!!


The cups have the corresponding colored bead hot glued in the bottom.



This one is Nora’s game.  I’m sure you can figure it out… if you’re older than 3.


You can probably figure this one out too.


We have some of these for Nora as well.


I have an assortment of leftover keyboard pieces (from the recycle shop at the Children’s museum).  I picked them up thinking they’d be kind of fun.



Not fun.  Not fun.



So mad.


Cut to the sticker… Some cards have squiggly lines, some have zig zag lines.


The 2 beads on the ends of this stick are hotglued on so that Nora can match the pattern with the empty stick in the bag (there are a few patterns to follow).


This is for Cole.  Slide the beads back and forth.


One of the books that we use for reading.


Nora reading the Bob books.




Holes punched in the top of a coffee can… put the pipe cleaners inside.  Cole can even do it!


So, there you have it.

And again, before you think that I’m super mom and came up with these all on my own.  No way.  I found all of these ideas online.  Actually,  I didn’t even find them.  My friend Mirandi emailed me the links.  Which talk about the homeschool expert… she’s your gal.  She totally have a blog.  But she’s homeschooling her kids so she doesn’t have time.  Oh the irony… 🙂

PS.  There’s a lot more that I could write about this.  And I’m sure this is like the most schizophrenic post that I’ve ever written.  But Cole’s waking up from his nap gottagobyyyyyyeeeee!!!!

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My Misc. File

I have this nice little folder on my desktop labeled, “Misc.”  It would contain random things I happen across on my computer, hard drive, and the interwebs.  Would you like to see the contents of this folder?

If your answer is, “Why yes, I would like to see a random panda on flickr, a beautiful rainbow, and a man using a manual breast pump,”  then look no further.

I came across this little gem a few months ago on the hard drive.  Auntie (yes, she has achieved auntie status around here… that’s how much she is loved!) Grace has been taking care of Alanna since she was 4 months old.  But alas, she still lives in Scotland…


This would be another one that I found on the hard drive of wee Johnathan.  About 4 years ago I guess.  Love that fuzzy head…


Okay, this hat is SO cute.  Can someone please buy it for their 6 month old daughter for me to photograph?


I think this one is hard to read, so I’ll quote it for you.  This little beauty was found on craigslist when we lived in Nashville.




Awhile back, Flickr changed its whole layout.  I didn’t understand the giant panda though…


This little cutie lived next door to us when we were in Nashville.  I love how her socks are pulled up over her leggings.  🙂


Isn’t Natasha a beautiful bride?


The mother’s kitchen windowsill… baby wash, candles, bubbles, handpicked flowers from little girls, etc.


Our view across the street when we lived in Scotland.  I was kinda bummed when the people in that house hung up blinds.  I love how you can see through that window in this shot.


Aunt Grace again… sigh…


Anyone who knows Chuck Kinne (Aunt Grace’s dad) will agree that this man very greatly favors him… kind of scary…


Looking for shoes for Cole online and found these… SO DISGUSTING.  Literally made me want to barf in my shoes. \


Aren’t these some intense high tops?


Annnnnndddd, the moment we’ve all been waiting for… a man (ahem, Mark) using a manual breast pump.  Does it work, Mark?


“Pregnancy, be alert for the telltale signs.”


An ikea ad I saw while browsing their site… who has a roller skate sitting out in their living room?


My inbox. My life:  “Diapers, poop, rashes: a complete guide.”


Another beautiful Scotland photo.  Double sigh…


And last but not least… isn’t this sooooo classy and professional?  Juuuust what I want potential future clients to see when they google my name.  Triple sigh….

Picture 1

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Jesse Trees and rocks.

(I betcha thought I wasn’t going to fulfill my word.  Well, I have 12 minutes left of this day.)

I have a lot of good friends.  And I could for really write lots of blog posts about my friends.  But today, I want to write about my friend Janna.

I have written about my friend Janna before.

And my friend Janna has a blog here.  Mind you, she hasn’t updated it in literally one year from today.  But that’s okay.  She’s been only slightly busy.  You know, moving across the country and adding another baby to their family.

All in day’s, I mean year’s work.

So, the house that we live in here in Boston is a 3 family home, meaning that it is one big house and each floor is a condo/ apartment.  We live on the bottom and Janna and her family live in the middle.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that Janna’s husband, Donny, works for the church as well.

So It’s totally like a commune.  Sort of.  And I love it.

We didn’t really plan it this way, but that apartment stayed empty for a few months after we moved and whatdyaknow, it was a perfect fit for my best friend.

Here’s one of the reasons why I love my friend Janna.

I called her up tonight (which, I can hear her phone vibrate on her  kitchen table when I call her) to see if she wanted to go to Target with me.   Which she did.  Now, Target trips with me and Janna… they take a long time.  I mean, there’s browsing that has to happen people.

This trip this evening involved me getting the supplies necessary to make a Jesse Tree.

I found my branch today at the playground to use as the tree itself.  I had envisioned a ceramic pot to put the branch in so that I could hang the ornaments on the branch.   Now, the ornaments, I decided needed to be hand painted, because I can’t find any other ones that I like.  So after 25 minutes looking at ornaments, we picked out this jumbo pack of shatter proof ornaments.  That I can paint tomorrow, since Wednesday is the first day of December.

I’m a planner.

We ended up getting a utensil canister for the branch to sit in.  And nowwww we needed something to hold up the branch.  Like some rocks.  Janna’s idea was aquarium rocks.  Target doesn’t have aquarium rocks, but the employee we asked suggested a pet store.

Um, thanks.

We had a short stint on the kitty litter aisle.

But we just couldn’t do it.

We left and had the great idea that we could just find a gravel driveway somewhere and um, borrow some rocks.  We drove around for awhile in the dark looking for rocks.  We tried a nursery.  Their rocks were no good.

We tried a few streets around our house.  No dice.

As we were going down our street, I found this awesome parking spot right close to the house (hard to find when everyone’s home from work!) and BAM, the driveway right next to the parking space was FULL of tiny gravel.


We sat in the car, me and Janna, and plotted how we were going to get these rocks.  I mean, we needed a lot of rocks, right???  In the end, we decided to place our target bags (and my jumbo box of ornaments) close to the driveway (which was blocked by a closed gate) and look as if we had dropped something on the ground as we scooped up rocks.

After mustering up the courage to borrow these rocks (which, it was 10:00, we probably didn’t have too much to worry about), we executed our plan.  As Janna was getting the last few bags, I started to fill up the canister by reaching a little bit under the gate. By the time Janna got the last bag, she said,

“Here, scoot it over here so that I can help you.”

But by then I was already done.

Yeah, spatial recognition fail…  it only took like 3 handfuls of gravel.  And we barely had to scrape the surrounded gravel around the place we um, borrowed from (which, don’t get all uppity, I fully intend on returning these rocks on precisely December 26th).

And then Janna threw her hands up and said,

“Wow, that was so anti-climatic.”

So that’s one of the reason why I love my friend Janna (amongst many other reasons that are more substantial).  Who else would I be with at 10:00 on a Monday night looking for gravel to put in a kitchen utensil canister?

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