Wednesday, December 31, 2008

His Mercy is New: WELCOME!! (and contest!)

Candace, a homeschooling friend, has moved her blog and is having a blog-warming contest! She is an amazing homeschool mom who posts all kinds of fun ideas and activities that she's doing with her kids . . . you should check it out!

His Mercy is New: WELCOME!! (and contest!)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Real mothers

I received this in an email from my sister -- a mother of three (including a TEENAGER) -- it made me smile . . . but I had to add a bit of commentary found in brackets:

Real mothers don't eat quiche; they don't have time to make it. [I actually do make quiche, and my husband eats it, too! ;)]

Real mothers know that their kitchen utensils are probably in the sandbox [or being used to create playdoh sculptures].

Real mothers often have sticky floors, filthy ovens [don't even look in mine; the microwave could use a little work right now too] and happy kids [at least most of the time].

Real mothers know that dried play dough doesn't come out of carpets [which is why we don't use playdoh anywhere NEAR carpet].

Real mothers don't want to know what the vacuum just sucked up. [Fortunately, we have a bagless that we can recover any "treasures" that were inadvertantly vacuumed up].

Real mothers sometimes ask 'Why me?' and get their answer when a little voice says, 'Because I love you best.' [Jaden is famous for saying, "I love you, you're special and you're precious!"]

Real mothers know that a child's growth is not measured by height or years or grade . . .

It is marked by the progression of Mommy to Mom to Mother...

The years pass so very quickly, and they are growing up so fast. Some days I'd like to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head -- or at least change my name for a couple of hours -- but I'm so thankful to be a mommy. I can't imagine my life any other way! It just doesn't get any better than this!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Making memories

It's been a busy month, filled with lots of family get-togethers and special activities . . .

. . . like the annual Martin family Christmas dinner.
Here are Lael and Jaden with Great-Grandma Irene and her husband Clarence.

Then last week was the annual Martin family Christmas dinner at Shady Maple Smorgasbord.
Here, Great-Grandpa Paul and Great-Grandma Esther pose with their great-grandchildren!

On Saturday night we went with friends to Chriskindlmarkt, a huge Christmas craft festival. There was so much to see, like this enormous Nutcracker!

Outside there were several beautiful ice sculptures -- Lael found another Nutcracker to pose with!
Jaden enjoyed climbing the snow piles more than anything, but he did stop long enough to give these two little penguins a pat on the head! Even more than the gifts and toys that our children will find under the tree this year, they will remember the special traditions that make our Christmas celebration special . . . and unforgettable!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Eight years ago . . .

Eight years ago, our lives changed forever . . .

Eight years ago, God gave us a miracle . . . and today we celebrate that miracle!

Lael entered the world ahead of our schedule, but she was right on time according to God's calendar!
Weighing only 1 pound, 3 ounces, she was the epitome of the good things that come in small packages.
She was so small that my wedding band was her bracelet, but she could cup my finger in her palm and hold on tight!
Over the years, she has grown . . .
. . . but she's always kept her beautiful smile and her love for Jesus!
Happy 8th birthday, princess! You are such a treasure to me, and I thank God for the joy of being your mommy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Our field trip to the Morning Call!

We had so much fun yesterday . . . we went to our local newspaper for a "behind-the-scenes" tour of how they make the newspaper that we get on Sundays -- and yes, they print newspapers every day, but we only get the Sunday paper because it's the only day we have time to read it ;)

In the lobby of the Morning Call . . .

eagerly anticipating the start of our tour!

We began our tour looking at an old printing press. We could see where they would set the type to print the paper. Pictured along with Daddy and the kids is "Mr. Bob" -- our wonderful tour guide and member of our church.

This room was filled with rolls of paper stacked up to the ceiling! Each roll of paper weighs about 1800 pounds (or -- as my husband told the kids -- about 9 daddies)!
This room is where the paper is fed up to the actual printing room, which is on the floor above. These machines are set up so that the paper can be continually fed without having to stop printing to change rolls of paper. Depending on the length of a particular day's paper, they can go through 9 or 10 rolls of paper to print one day's newspapers.
These are the actual presses where the printing happens . . .
. . . and a section of the paper is being printed.
The press prints the paper, splits the page in half, folds and assembles each section. It was pretty cool watching the finished section fly off the assembly line! (No idea what section it was, though, because it was moving so fast.)
Here the finished sections hang from a conveyor belt and travel to the next room.
In this room, different sections are assembled and "stuffed" -- for example, the comics section (which is Lael's favorite) gets stuffed with coupons and sales flyers. Each section gets stuffed only with the sales flyers for stores in that region.
This is the assembly line that is stuffing the comic section for next Sunday's paper.

Wow, what a fun trip! Lael was excited to sneak a peek at the comics for next Sunday, while Jaden loved all the noisy machines (and the ear plugs he got to wear while we were in those rooms). Thank you so much to "Mr. Bob" for arranging this wonderful tour for us! Now the kids have decided that we should write our own newspaper -- so stay tuned to see what happens with that!

First visit to see the Nutcracker!

Lael was surprised on Saturday with a trip to Symphony Hall to see the Nutcracker! We had attended a program at our library at the beginning of the month featuring some of the dancers from the local reparatory dance company. The dancer who played Clara read the story of the Nutcracker to the children, then the dancers shared some of the dances from the ballet with the children -- they even got the children up to participate with them.

Ever since that visit, Lael has talked about the Nutcracker ballet and wanting to see it "someday" -- little did she know how soon "someday" would come!

Here she is -- all ready to go -- but she doesn't yet know where she's going!
(We waited to tell her until we were ready to climb into the car.)

Lael and our special friend "Miss Pat" waiting for the ballet to begin -- this trip came about at Miss Pat's invitation!

The cast at the curtain call! They were magnificent!
Lael's favorite character was Clara -- partly because she had been able to meet her at the library program. She also loved watching the Sugar Plum Fairy dance.
Lael's favorite scenes: The battle between the toy soldiers and the mice, as well as the dance with the Snow Queen and the snowflakes (that was Mommy's favorite also)
What a wonderful, memory-making time! Thanks so much, Miss Pat, for such a special afternoon.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Our little ballerina

Here's our sweet ballerina! Her ballet class was asked to be part of the Christmas musical this past weekend at the church where the ballet class meets.

There are 11 girls in the class, but two of them have become special friends.

And this is "Miss Lea" -- her wonderful teacher. Lea is a senior at a performing arts high school, and she is doing a fabulous job teaching the girls ballet and tap dance.

I know these pictures are a bit dark . . . but they were the best we could do! Lael is the fourth girl from the left -- she was in the second row.
The girls really did a fantastic job, especially since they only had four weeks to work on the choreography! Lael told us afterwards that she was nervous until she stepped out onto the stage, and after that it was just fun!

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas!

It's our family tradition to decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving so we can maximize our enjoyment of the tree and lights. So on the 29th we set out to decorate our tree and mantle. (Yes, we have a little tree -- which worked really well when we had a little house, but I think we will have to upgrade at some point.)

After we finished decorating, we watched 101 Dalmatians (the cartoon version) and then we started a new tradition . . . we had a family sleepover in the living room!
Here's Daddy with his boy . . .
. . . and his girl!
Then when we got up on Saturday morning, we went out for breakfast, where we gave the kids the ornaments we had selected for them and talked about why we chose those particular ornaments. Both kids decided that we should do this every year (and Mommy and Daddy agree)!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Operation Christmas Child 2008

This year we participated in Operation Christmas Child, sponsored by Samaritan's Purse, for the very first time. I think this will become an annual tradition . . . we had so much fun!

Lael and Jaden helped pick out items for their shoeboxes -- they each filled a box geared for children the same ages as they are. In addition to school supplies and hygiene items, they picked out coloring books, small toys and candy for fun treats! Then they decorated the outside of the boxes with LOTS of stickers!
Then it was time to deliver the boxes . . . we went to our local drop-off location with some ladies from church.

Here's the trailer truck that will carry our shoeboxes -- plus many more!
Just a few of the thousands of shoeboxes that came to this location!
They even had snacks as special thank-you treats for those dropping off boxes! Lael and Jaden thought that was great!
Lael and Jaden with "Miss Doris" and "Miss Joanne" from church - they teach Mission Minded Kids - and Lynnette Dallmann (in the red scarf) who is the area coordinator for Operation Christmas Child.
The most precious memory I have of this experience is hearing my children pray for the children who will receive the boxes they put together.
Lael prayed that they would have joy and peace and that they would be happy.
Jaden's prayer was simply that the little boy who would get his box would know God and ask Jesus to be his Savior.
As they were praying in the car once again while we drove to the drop-off center, my eyes filled with tears as I realized that even though there are many things we are still working on with our children, they understand what is most important -- that everyone needs to know the love that only God gives and that we have been blessed so that we can be a blessing to others.