Friday, December 31, 2010

The Countdown has begun...

My c-section has been scheduled for Feb. 8 so we are quickly counting down the days. I am officially 34 weeks today but really only have 5-1/2 weeks left because of the c-section. I feel HUGE and so ready to meet this little one. Howard and I have agreed on a name if it's a boy and we've narrowed the girls names down to two. We're getting there! Thanks to everyone who's already voted on what we're having. Everyone seems to think we're having a boy. Hmmm... It's going to be fun to find out!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Day 2010

Isn't this the perfect look of aniticipation on Alexa's face?
We spent Christmas day at home as a family for the first time since Howard and I have been married. It was such a nice relaxing day for all of us!

Chase got a cookie making set to go along with Alexa's kitchen and he's been quite into baking cookies for everyone since then.

 Alexa took forever to unwrap her gifts. She carefully pulls off pieces of paper, takes her time crumpling them up nicely, walks to the trash bag and pushes it in and then comes back to start all over again. She was getting so frustrated with how long it took to open her gifts that we would get them almost opened and let her finish. It's very cute to watch the process.

Chase's big gift was a train table and his face was all the reaction we needed. He's been talking about this table for a good year now.

 Alexa loves her new stroller and baby doll (in preperation for the real deal). She was so concerned about her baby being cold that I had to go get a receiving blanket to swaddle the doll in. She just wheels around like it's nobody's business and wears herself out walking!

 The next two shots are just to prove that Howard and I were there. We actually let the kids take turns opening all their gifts first. Once the kids were playing with their new toys we had some time to open our stockings and gifts together without interruption which was a nice surprise.

 Our family has a lot of Christmas traditions we follow but we are making a lot of our own as well. We have cinnamon pull-apart bread for breakfast Christmas Eve morning. For as long as I can remember my family has always had Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and orange rolls for breakfast Christmas morning so those were our healthy breakfasts over the Christmas weekend!
I am not a big fan of the traditional turkey dinner (hence, why I'm not a fan of Thanksgiving?). I didn't want to cook any big meal or have Howard slaving over something either so we talked with Chase about it and decided that our Christmas day dinner would be Bagel Bites and all the leftover goodies from our Christmas Eve get-together. It was wonderful! We ate food we don't normally splurge on and the kids loved it because it was their kind of food. Nobody dressed up, we just had a nice casual dinner together and it was great! Howard and I are excited to see how our Christmas dinner will evolve through the years as our kids get older. It will be tradition to be non-traditional and we're all for that! Yum!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Eve 2010

We had a great family time on Christmas Eve. This year was the first year Howard and I decided to stay home with our family on Christmas day so my immediate family got together Christmas Eve night. It was a time full of food we don't usually eat (donuts from a local donut joint, yum!), visiting and gift giving.

My sister-in-law and I both got digital cameras so we were snapping each other taking photos. My new camera is super nice and compatible with all my old 35mm camera lenses so I'm super excited to start playing around with all the new functions!

 My parents gave families with grandkids the gift of G.T. and the Halo Express on CD. It is an awesome way to learn scripture to music and my whole family can still recall a bunch of Bible verses thanks to listening to these shows as kids.

My niece, Nonah, was making this adorable face everytime someone would try to take her picture. It's how she thinks she's supposed to respond to a camera. So cute!

Alexa loves her Nee Nee so she was very happy to have her attention for a lot of the night. They were snuggling with her new stuffed doggy.

Chase was beyond excited about getting a scooter and helmet from Nee Nee and Poppy. He cruised around their apartment all night and wore the helmet for most of Christmas day as well.

My brother Peter's family.

Billy, unfortunately, got sick the day before so he felt pretty lousy but he at least rallied to spend some time with all of us.

Still a cute couple 30 years later!

Chase was able to eat donuts with the all clear on eggs and he thoroughly enjoyed his Boston Creme.

This was towards the end of the night and Chase just decided not to cooperate with the camera so this was the best family shot we got.

My sister-in-law made my mom and me aprons. Aren't they so cute! I was super impressed with her skills.

It was so much fun and went by so fast. We've been munching on some of the leftovers for the last few days which has been a nice treat.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Honey!

It wouldn't be fair to blog about Christmas until I at least acknowledged Howard's birthday. (He usually gets the short end of the stick with being born right before Christmas)
This picture is what happens when I only get one candid shot before things go haywire with the kids (sorry hon!). :-)

We had lasagna (my first attempt!), garlic bread, salad and ice cream cake for his birthday meal. Happy 35th birthday Howard! We're so blessed to have you! :-)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Happenings

We are having such fun preparing for Christmas!
Two weeks ago I took the kids to our towns Christmas celebration. Howard had to work at the last minute and I wasn't sure I wanted to go it alone but we were all sick of being inside so we ventured out. I am so glad we did! The kids and I had a blast! There were stops all over our town that you could get to by trolley. We all enjoyed those rides around town. They had a scavenger hunt where you could go to various business around the town and collect stickers or stamps to trade in for raffle tickets at the end of the day. The tickets were then used to enter drawings for various prizes that local businesses had donated. Every business was handing out some type of goody and a lot of them had activities for the kids to do as well. The kids made Christmas cards, Chase decorated a stocking with his name and candy canes on it, we got tons of cookies, juice and popcorn.
We saw and voted on the local gingerbread decorating contest and Chase got his face painted, which thoroughly delighted him. We also watched an indoor train display that both kids loved.
 We got to meet Santa at the fire house and Chase shocked me by declaring that he wanted to talk to Santa. This is my shy kid so I tried to prepare him that we could leave if he wanted but he was determined to let Santa know what he wanted. I wish I had my camera with me because his face looked so terrified and yet determined to speak with Santa! He clearly asked for two very specific things he's had on his mind for a long time and then both the kids got a goody bag from Santa.

Alexa's bag had a two pack of panda bear plates in it that she has insisted on eating from for breakfast and lunch ever since! She growls out the word bear until you understand what she's trying to say. It is so cute!

The final fun of it all happened yesterday when we got a phone call that Chase had won the coloring contest for his age range at one of the local businesses! If you could have heard him when we turned in his picture two weeks ago you would have melted. He was so innocent in his confidence that everyone would vote for his picture and he would win. :-) Amazingly enough he did win his age category and a $25 gift card to ToysRUs! We're so proud of him for doing such a great job!

It was a wonderful time for us all and the kids can't wait to participate again next year. We even found a local business we didn't know existed but that we will be making use of in the next few years. Fun times!  

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What are we Having?

I'll get a picture of myself up here shortly to help with this one but check out our poll to the top left and vote for what you think the baby's gender is. (Nope, we still have no clue and you'll be waiting until delivery day to find out!)

Thanksgiving and Birthdays

     Wow! I had hoped to be back on here before now but the holidays and birthdays are keeping me running!
     We hosted Thanksgiving at our house this year before everyone arrived we got a little snow...we let Chase out to run around in it and by the time he came back in it looked like...

It quickly cleared up and didn't cause anyone trouble in coming. Six of the 10 of us were sick so it was rather low-key for our family. There was much joking that all the healthy ones were going to barge into some "healthy" house for dinner and leave us sickies by ourselves. It took 4 weeks for me to get over the craziness of whatever it was we caught. So thankful to be over it!

This little peanut had a birthday in the meantime. The big 2!!!

     She enjoyed her birthday cupcakes on her actual birthday and then we had a small celebration with the grandparents on the following Saturday.

I made a chocolate cake with vanilla-almond buttercream icing. It was yummy!

Alexa's grandparents got her a princess table and chairs as well as a pink tea set. (Notice the pink sparkly shoes she's wearing? They're too big for her yet but she insists on wearing them around the house. She is every bit our girly-girl!)

Daddy has had to have many tea parties with his little girl already!


Alexa also graduated to a big girl bed in preparation for her new sibling. She is so proud of her bed and has done an amazing job of adjusting to sleeping outside the crib.

This one is just for fun. Chase, Lexie and Nonah were having some fun at Nee Nee's house when we all got together to celebrate my parents birthdays.
 We're preparing to celebrate Howard's birthday this weekend and possibly see some Christmas lights so there will be more to post soon!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

When Life Isn't What You Wished For...

     I've had a bunch of people checking in on me and I appreciate everyone's concern and love. I really am okay, as is our family. There's been a lot of transition going on that I will try to explain so bear with me if this post gets a little long.
     I guess the best place to start is to share that my (Sarah's) parents shared with us that they had been praying about my dad leaving his job with Tastykake and venturing into something a little less physically strenuous for him and a with a little more ministry opportunity available for my mom and him. It was a bit of a shock at first because my parents don't do anything too spontaneous or adventerous. They are solid and reliable and for the most part I like them that way! :-) Without going into too much detail my parents felt led by the Lord to start pursuing a business where they can rent out cabins for people to come vacation in. Their dream is to eventually generate enough income that they can offer cabins to families in ministry who can't afford a vacation or to burnt out missionaries/leaders/couples who need to be refreshed and encouraged in their "walk".
     It was easier to be supportive when my parents were considering moving out west to do this. If you know anything about me at all I've always had the dream of moving out west. But after visiting out there they felt very clearly that it was not the direction they were to go and they started looking south. They've found potential in Tennessee which, in itself, places them far away from me and not in an easy-to-get-to drive with small kids. They listed their house and it sold faster than expected. They weren't supposed to be moving until the end of this month but due to some twists with their buyers they moved the end of October. It's pushed every button I lack when it comes to adapting to change. They are (hopefully) here in a rental until our baby is born. My parents have always been close by and so this is not an easy change for me. I grew up with grandparents who did not live nearby and I know how it affects relationships whether you want it to or not. Since their business and Howard's work will keep us apart for long periods of time I struggle to remain hopeful that my children will still enjoy the closeness to my parents that they relish right now. Our time with them is very bittersweet right now to say the least.
     Within a month of my parents dropping their bomb my brother and sister-in-law announced that they were listing their house with the hopes of moving out west by the end of next summer. (Did I mention that I don't take change well!) My little niece is close in age to Alexa and my dreams for them of growing up close and having each other disappeared out the window with that announcement. If my brother and sister-in-law end up moving west I am well aware that due to financial constraints on all of us it will be a long time before we see them again. And that's part of the struggle. With my parents one way, my brother another and us here family reunions are not likely. I support their dreams because we have our own too but it doesn't make the leaving and separating any easier. I didn't have any aunts, uncles or cousins close by growing up and I feel like I missed out on some really great relationships within my family as a result. My heart hurts over all this losing and despite so many words spoken with the best of intentions you can't understand unless you can walk in my shoes through the years.
     While all of this was going on my husband went through a period of 4 weeks of working nights. Night work always puts a stress on our family because our time becomes very limited. Because of the job Howard was doing we saw him for about an hour each evening as he was getting ready to leave. He'd come home around breakfast time in the morning and crash until he had to leave for work again. After the six days a week of nights for four weeks was over he went right into an insane schedule of 60+ hour work weeks. He's gone for six days out of the week long before any of us get up for the day and often comes home as the kids are getting into bed or after they're already down for the night. Because I am functioning as a single parent and Howard is run down from his job our relationship also suffers. We have no energy to try to connect after a long day(s) so we share briefly about our days and Howard either nods off or heads to bed right away after eating his dinner. I guess because of all the other stress going on in our lives (and pregnancy hormones!) this year the job has just become so much more unbearable. I feel so run down and we've been battling colds on and off again since the end of August! Traditionally Howard's work finally levels off after Thanksgiving but I confess that I'm not holding my breath. I try to explain to people who envy his four months of layoff in the winter that I would gladly trade that for a consistent 40 hour work week with weekends off any day! The other eight months of the year are taxing on all of us.
     Oh! Did I mention that while all this was going on my cat of 12 years started getting sicker and sicker. We've been through numerous vet visits and testing and got no answers just that our cat was a chronic puker. Things continued to escalate with him to the point that we were using baby gates to confine him to our kitchen and basement where we could clean up after him easier. A couple weeks ago Howard and I both noticed a very dramatic change in his weight and I weighed him only to discover that he had lost about 4lbs. in a six month period. For a cat that is freak-out type symptoms. I made the very difficult decision to have him put to sleep at that point. We didn't feel that Smokey was happy or healthy anymore. The vet sort of confirmed my suspicions that he more than likely was suffering from some sort of bone cancer that the tests we did wouldn't have picked up. So in all this mess I lost my companion when Howard works late or I'm an emotional mess. Anyone who knew him would tell you he wasn't a typical cat. He was loving to everybody and calm and very sensitive to me. While I have some relief over not having to deal with all his health issues I miss his comforting warmth in the evenings.
     I almost done, promise! Since my parents are moving away and they led our house church it has also prompted us all to have to search for new church homes. Our house church has been a place of great spiritual growth and challenge for me and I am hungry to be with a body of believers who are just as hungry as I am. Sadly, the search has been pretty frustrating so far and options are pretty slim so I completely have to depend on the Lord's direction in this area.
     The most amazing thing about this whole time is that I am well aware of the fact that I have not been carrying on in my own strength. There've been moments when I felt like my head was going to explode and I had the inexplicable sense that if I was doing everything in my own strenth I would have failed long ago. My faithful "Daddy" has been carrying me and caring for me. My walk with Him has been closer than ever and my hunger for Him is so unsatiable right now. I am reading all I can to encourage myself in the Lord and to keep my focus as trained on His faithfulness as I can. There's so much more I could say and many more little life details that have added to this crazy life we live but those are the main details of what I've been dealing with and where I am right now. We are okay and I'm trusting that the Lord will continue to carry us especially when life becomes more than I think I can bear...:-)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


     I haven't felt much like blogging lately. There's a lot going on in my immediate and extended family right now and I'm not very good with change so the processing and adjusting has been very difficult for me. I will share more on this in the future but right now I just need time to come to terms with all the change going on. I think I've been semi depressed and definitely emotional lately and I just don't have the energy to put out much effort on here right now. I'll be back and hopefully better than before.
     On a more positive note the kids and I are LOVING this fall weather. We collected some awesome leaves the other day, traced them onto construction paper and hung them up in our kitchen windows. I love fall. It's my favorite time of year. I love air cold enough that it feels so clean and when you inhale it almost burns going into your lungs. It occurred to me the other day that Fall to me is almost like the finishing touches on God's year-long masterpiece. Each winter he pulls out a fresh, white canvas and begins a new masterpiece. He starts with stark trees, bare earth and gradually progresses through the life and vibrancy of spring and summer, culminating in spectacular colors, bluest of blue skies and a world just singing with praise to it's creator. Awesome!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Six Years

So Saturday was our six year anniversary. We both remarked the other day how we're starting to feel like the old married couple. Our friends are still getting married and just starting families and we're feeling like it's all so old hat for us...

I was trying to think of what I could share that we've learned this year about our relationship and maybe the biggest thing is our constant desire to be better spouses to each other. We don't want to settle for the status quo but truly desire to love each other better. It's so easy to say and so much harder to put into practice! What I did notice about both of our anniversary cards to each other was that we both commented about how, six years later, we still look forward to the end of the day when we get to see each other again. No matter how bad the day our highlight is still each other. :-)

As for what we did this year...Howard's parents came up Saturday night and watched the kids so that we could go out to dinner. The time flew by but we had great food and a wonderful time just lingering over a meal instead of rushing or being interrupted by our kids. On Sunday we left the kids with my parents for the day and went to a local burrito joint (did I mention my love of Mexican food!) for lunch and then played a round of miniature golf together. It was nothing serious, no deep discussions, just the two of us enjoying being together. We needed it, benefited from it and have great sixth anniversary memories to look back on. Howard and I both got hole-in-ones so that was pretty cool too.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine

We took last Saturday and went to Strasburg, PA for A Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine.

Chase has been looking forward to this since July. I love this picture because it captures perfectly how a little kid feels when they have to wait in line for 20 minutes to do something they've been waiting forever for. :-)

The train ride was a short twenty minutes but Chase loved it. We saw cows, school buses, a donkey, a goat, miniature horses and draft horses on our ride. It was a very exciting twenty minutes to a three year old.

Alexa had fun too, although most of it was spent quite taken with the "babies" (children the same age or slightly older than she is) who were sitting around us. Check out her dimple! We still don't know who it came from although my Aunt Ruth has dimples so maybe it's a recessed gene!

We were in the William McFarlane car. It was quite spiffy and very nice compared to the train ride we took last year.

There were a lot of other activities for the kids to do. Chase loved the Cranky Cars which had to be cranked by hand. He rode this ride three times and loved every second of them.

He had fun trying to race away from daddy!

Howard and the kids are at the back of this mini-train. The train is about 86 years old and still steaming away.

This was one of the vacation days that we had planned this year. It was a beautiful day and we all had a great time. Chase got to pick out a t-shirt and he also got a Thomas the Tank Engine train whistle so that he can imitate the sounds of the trains we were around. He loves both and at bedtime the "poop-poop" of the whistle can be heard now and again.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Labor Day

For us Labor Day meant a chance to have Howard home for a little while. He is in the midst of his busy season at work and our time with him is limited. He is often working six days a week right now and Labor Day weekend was no exception. That he had Sunday and Monday off was wonderful for all of us. We took the kids to a lake that I grew up around and Howard and I spent time together at once we met.

Chase and daddy were trying to spot the fish.

Lexie and I went off to find a good spot to watch the boats launching from the marina.

It was a perfectly beautiful day. The sailboats were out in force and the kids loved watching them all. We waved to everyone launching and they happily waved back making the kids feel like mini celebrities.

We took bread to feed the fish which Chase enjoyed chucking all over.

Alexa hungrily chowed down on the bread (which was going stale) instead of throwing it since she hadn't eaten much breakfast that morning. She was slamming the pieces into her mouth so fast she was barely able to chew!

We took Chase's bike and went for a mile walk/ride down the walking path before coming back for a little more lake time.

Yes, I'm starting to show quite a bit...:-)

We found a small hill that Howard and Chase were running up and down. Alexa didn't want to be left out and she LOVED having daddy run her back and forth.
     We returned home for leftover hotdogs and shrimp on the grill. I'm the only one who eats shrimp and I relished it. I had marinated it in balsamic vinaigrette and then skewered the shrimp for grilling. Chase, who hasn't liked shrimp in the past, asked to try it. We gave him one and he proceeded to try to eat all of mine! He gobbled them down like candy so I had to guard my meal carefully! I was thrilled that he liked them though and I'll be making extra next time.
     Chase keeps asking if I want to go back to the lake again and take his bike to ride. We'll be heading back the first chance we get!