Saturday, February 7, 2015

Growing Fast

I cannot believe that Grace is already 4 months old! She is starting to outgrow her colic, praise the Lord (thanks to oils and some adjustments by our favorite chiropractor). She still has a very sensitive stomach, but the screaming for hours on end has stopped for the most part. She still doesn't do much in the way of naps-if she sleeps for an hour at a time, I consider that a good nap! But she's generally happy during the day, so that's okay. She's a GREAT sleeper at night. She's been sleeping all night for quite a couple of months.

Isaac is still in love with baby Grace :) He doesn't hold her very often anymore because she doesn't just lay back in your arms. She wants to sit up and see what's going on!

 Isaac plays hard and crashes even harder!

 Jacob is such a goofball!!

 Anna loves to read to anyone who will listen...she usually has a pretty willing audience!

 Sweet cheeks :)

 This is what happens when you're the baby of the family! ;)

 Isaac loves to sit with Grace and talk to her or read to her. So precious.

 We've had a bit of cabin fever this winter. One day I made the kids go outside for their math and spelling lessons. Ha!! It was a bit chilly, but that cold air is good for their brains. It was challenging to write letters and numbers backward!! We're loving the big picture window for math these days.

 In the last month, Grace has really figured out how to make her hands work...most of the time. The boys, especially Isaac, will learn quickly that they can't use her highchair tray as a resting spot for their toys if they don't want them to end up in Grace's mouth! This picture was about a month ago and she was trying SO hard to make that hand reach out and grab the Transformer!

 I was working on some graphics the other day and Grace wanted to "help". ;) Such a big girl!

 Grocery shopping is quite the adventure anymore. I still try to arrange it so that I can either leave most of the kids home with Aaron or he can come with me and keep the kids entertained while I shop. Most of the time, it's me with the kids. This time, Anna & Jacob were pretending that Jacob was a dog named Pizza (thus the string Anna attached to his coat). I would tell Anna an item on the list, she would say, "Pizza, go fetch ____!" and let go of his "leash" and off he went down the isle to find it and bring it back. I'm sure people thought we were crazy, but it kept them happy and not fighting!!

 See...such a goofball!!

 This was after her 4 month checkup and shots. :( You can see how long she is! She wears 9 month clothes and some of them she's already outgrowing!

 Anna has decided to learn the ukulele instead of piano lessons. Grandpa brought her his very special ukulele that he got in Hawaii over 30 years ago. She's had fun working on learning the chords he showed her. We try to FaceTime or Skype and Grandpa will coach her on how to position her fingers, etc. She's enjoying it! Jacob is still taking piano lessons and he is doing a great job! He seems to be very musically inclined and is quickly learning and flying through his books. He loves to play and it's often during the day that you'll find him sitting at the piano, playing any number of songs! I love having my house filled with music. :)

 Grace loves sitting in her highchair and watching everything that's going on. If she's tired, but I'm in the middle of fixing a meal, Anna will push her around the kitchen in it and Grace will fall asleep. :)

 Some days, he needs a nap before he even has the chance to get dressed. Oy.

And if this kid (whose shirt is on backward!) doesn't stop pulling barely-loose teeth, he's not going to have any teeth to eat his food!

Time is flying by, yet some days seems to stand still. This year, I'm trying to focus on JOY-finding joy in the everyday things and the big things. Last year was a pretty tough year for me and I kind of lost my joy and was just simply trying to make it through the days. This year, I want to be purposeful in finding joy every day. Some days I really have to search for it, but it's always there!

The joy of the LORD is my strength.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Iowa Fun in the Snow

We waited a couple extra days to go to Iowa. Isaac seemed much better and we still weren't really sure what exactly he had. It didn't seem to be contagious, although both he and Aaron got the same thing, but no one else did.
A snow storm was supposed to move in that Tuesday up there, but we were hoping we could beat it. No such luck. We left later than I wanted. We got to Kansas City as the snow was starting in earnest in Des Moines. As we were stopped trying to decide what to do, Isaac starting crying that his stomach hurt again. Then he started screaming that he wanted a bath. Never mind that we were in the parking lot of a Chick-Fil-A. That boy wanted a bath right NOW. That kind of made the decision for us. Plus, Dad said the weather wasn't the greatest and fog was moving in pretty thick. We had enough points saved up for a free night, so all we had to do was a find the right hotel that was somewhat close to us. Not an easy task when you have a 4 year old screaming in pain! Finally got the hotel booked and got the directions up on GPS. We got to the room and Aaron unloaded everything. I got Isaac in the bath right away, which helped his stomach. When he has a stomach ache, he doesn't want any clothes on, not even underwear. So strange. Anyway, thankfully our room had a kitchenette and enough room for all 6 of us. Isaac and I had one bed, Anna and Jacob shared the other, the staff brought a crib for Grace, and Aaron slept in the recliner. It wasn't the most ideal, but it worked better than trying to make the rest of the drive with Isaac feeling like he did!
After getting Isaac settled, Jacob and I went to find some groceries. While we were gone, Aaron was a good thing we stopped because he ended up getting sick! It was just the once, so I think it might have just been something he ate. Sweet Anna took care of Grace while he was sick in the bathroom. She got her to sleep on the bed. Thankfully Isaac stayed asleep! Jacob and I found what we needed for spaghetti (by this point in our marathon sickness, we were all craving real food and veggies!), grabbed some green beans and the requested ice cream. :) I also got some things for breakfast and some yogurt for Isaac. We made it back with only one wrong turn and I got supper fixed. We had to take turns with the silverware since there were only 4 place settings! Ha. It was so nice to have a free room for the night and still be able to cook good food for us to eat. 

Isaac slept pretty good that night, albeit in odd positions!

He woke up the next morning feeling great, ready for breakfast! (He didn't eat anything for supper)

We took our time getting around the next morning. It was actually a pretty fun detour, minus Isaac's tummy troubles. I don't think the kids remember ever staying in a hotel. The last one I can remember is when we went to Texas for the Mustang competition and Isaac was just a baby. And it was kind of nice to break the trip up, even though it's only 7-8 hours drive. The closer we got to Des Moines, the more cars we saw in the ditches. We were very glad we had decided to stop!

The boys always want to take a bubble bath in the "BIG TUB"!! :)

 Papa took the kids sledding one was SO COLD, I couldn't believe the kids even wanted to go out! But they were pretty excited to go sledding. I think this is actually from the 2nd time they went (and Aaron went with them). 

 How can he even be sleeping?!?

 Aaron got a bit of a workout when he decided to pull the kids around on the sled in the backyard!

 Grace thought it was funny :)

 We loved having a fire going! Especially after they came back from the first sledding adventure frozen to the core! I had hot chocolate ready and the fire blazing. They sat there for quite a while thawing out their frozen toes and fingers. :)

 Isaac thought that since we had a fire, it would be perfect to roast hot dogs and make S'mores. 

 So one night the adults decided to watch a movie. Last thing I remember is having a hard time keeping my eyes open. Next thing I know, I wake up at 2am to a completely dark house and Mom & Dad nowhere in sight! We couldn't even stay up long enough to finish the movie. I guess those 2+ months of sleepless nights caught up with me.

 I really hope this video works. It's of Anna & Papa going down a hill. Listen to Anna toward the end...she was sure it was all over! HA!!

We took advantage of there being a Barnes & Noble close by while we were up there and took the kids to spend their Christmas gift card. None of them had even been to a Barnes & Noble, let alone seen one. This was Anna's face when we got upstairs to the children's section!! We spent a fair amount of time there!

Christmas 2014

We recovered in time to celebrate Christmas pretty much healthy. Hallelujah!!!

I'm not sure where all my pictures of the kids opening presents are...must not have uploaded them from my camera yet.

We got Jacob a big house Lego set. Aaron spent a lot of hours putting it together for him (he said there were way too many tiny pieces for Jacob to even have helped with it...there were TWO instruction books!). This was his reaction when he saw it put together. :)

 Aaron never can wait to let the kids open the presents and stockings! I think we did make it to Christmas morning this year for the stockings. :)

 Grace was fussing until Papa took her down to the floor so she was in on all the action!

 Christmas Day we had dinner over at Jeremy's. Papa was happy to have his hands full with these two babies!

 Hilarious that they both got Minion shirts for Christmas and they both wore them the same day!

Jacob and Jaxon :)

The Friday after Christmas, we headed out to the farm to celebrate with the Stinemetz clan...we were all healthy. Woohoo!!

 Grandma Mary Elizabeth with her namesake Grace Elizabeth :) I've lost count how many great-grandchildren they have now! It's well over 20.

 2nd cousins :)

 Oh my goodness, this is just so precious. Leah and Anna-I call them soul sisters-holding hands during prayer.

 Grace and Jaxon.

 Great Grandpa with Grace (he was rocking her so the pic is a little blurry).

 Ange couldn't make it, so she FaceTime'd with Amber so she could say hi to everyone!

 These two are the reason there was a houseful of 30-some people gathered to celebrate our Savior's birth. So, so thankful for the legacy they are leaving for the next generations...a legacy of love, survival, care, but most of all a legacy of faith! Love them more than I can say!!

 About 2/3 of the family I would say, was able to make it this year.

 Great-grandchildren singing the traditional "Away in the Manger"

 Hunter (my cousin's son) loves babies. He held Grace and put her to sleep in like 2 minutes! I told him he had no choice...he was coming home with me!!!

We went home Sunday afternoon, but Sunday morning Aaron started feeling sick. By lunch time, I was sick. You have got to be kidding me. We both caught some stomach bug (a few others caught it, too). 3 days we were sick. Thankfully none of the kids got it. Off and on for a week during that time, Aaron also had a really bad stomach ache-just sharp pain that would come and go. He said it's the worst stomach ache he's ever had. Not long after we got home, Isaac started with the same thing. It was crippling pain. He would just hunch over and cry, couldn't even walk. Only a hot bath made it feel better. There were no other symptoms. No fever, diarrhea, or even gas.

We thought Isaac was over his, so we went ahead and went to Jamie's for my family's gathering. He wasn't over it. It was more nights of not much sleep between him and Grace, while we were in Wichita. I had to be careful and not fall asleep sitting in the bathroom while he was in the tub because HE was so tired he fell asleep a couple of times sitting in the tub! But in between, he felt normal so he had lots of fun playing with cousins.

 Mia, trying to organize the kids and practice for the play. She had the following ages to corral: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 4, & 4. All but 2 were boys. HA!!!

 Case in point...he's supposed to be the innkeeper........

 Jamie & Cassie started what I think needs to be a new tradition! A "Random Acts of Kindness Race". Girls vs boys. Each team had a list of places to go and deliver a little gift. Everyone loved it!

 I guess that's Mia's game face?? 

 See ya, boys!!

 Our first stop was to drop off a bag of doggie treats at the Humane Society.

 We're lucky we didn't come home with a dog!

 Next up was putting quarters in the carts at Aldi.

Then we headed to Target with our gift card to buy clothes and toys for kids at a new temporary foster home (where kids are taken until a permanent foster home is located). It was great and I love the lesson our kids learned-it's not about them, and it's great to help and give to others in need!

We had decided before Christmas that we would spend the first week of January in Iowa. Aaron was ready for a break from work! We went home for a couple days first and kind of regrouped and repacked. And tried to get everyone healthy!

 It looked like Grace was pulling Aaron around the way she had ahold of the drawstring on his sweatshirt! Haha!

 Such a big girl! She LOVES to sit up!

 Isaac was not doing so great. He lost a decent amount of weight (which really shows when you're already scrawny). Aaron's ended up lasting about 10 days, so Isaac had a ways to go if he had what Aaron did.

I felt so bad for him. Nothing I tried helped him, except for a hot bath. And even then sometimes that didn't even help. Exhaustion for both him and me.

Next up...our trip to Iowa. Sick kid + baby who hates her car seat = interesting road trip!