Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lovin' our Leanna---One whole year!

We celebrated my sweet Leanna's first birthday today! Her actual birthday isn't until Monday, but tonight worked better for everybody to get together. So much has happened for our family in the past year that it's hard to believe it's only been that long! Our sweet Leanna has been here with us a whole year now, and we love her more than words can say. So, without further 'ado', her birthday party....

Yep, that's her cake :)
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The cake that was 'just for her' was cupcake size. She ate the entire thing! I think that's the most sugar she's ever had at one time!
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And yes, of course, the rest of us ate cake too :) We sat outside on the deck because it was such a gorgeous evening! Well, that, AND I'm in love with my yard right now!
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See why?
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Here, Noah demonstrates the proper way to eat a cherry
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Grandma Carol, my Dad's mom, signing Leanna's birthday picture frame
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My brother---what a handsome guy :)
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Showing off one of her new outfits from my Dad and Suzanne----they were here with us tonight in spirit :)

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I love 'Aunt Kristin pictures' with my kids :)
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My sister on the left, and on the right.....my future sister-in-law!!!!!!!!!!! My brother proposed two weeks ago on her birthday, and we couldn't be happier for them :)

And finally, Grandma and Grandpa, saying goodnight to the birthday girl, who had long since shed her hot dress :)
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Happy Birthday, Leanna Rose! We love you!


( I just realized that there are no pictures of my husband on here......that's what happens when you're stuck behind the camera all night, I guess :(





Friday, May 27, 2011

The quest for the missing shoe (Or...why you should never go shopping with four children age six and under)

So, I had one simple stop to make. We were going to run into the store, pick up stuff for Leanna's birthday cake, plus a handful of other things, and then be on our way. Not a big deal. I drug my sister along with me. (She frequently gets included on these 'fun' expeditions, poor thing) Anyway, we finished our shopping, got out to the car, strapped all the babies in their car-seats, and headed off down the road to Taco Bell for four 99-cent burrito things.

We arrived at Taco Bell, and Kristin got the baby and big kids out while I started to unhook Noah. But then I noticed....uh-oh, Noah's missing a shoe! When did he loose it? I looked everywhere around his seat and on the floor for the shoe. And, of course, he doesn't say much yet, so he can't tell us where he lost the shoe.

"Oh darn. I'm hungry! I don't really want to run back to the store we were just at....but it's his good pair of sandals!" So, back in the van everybody goes. I drive back to the store, look all around our parking place, the cart we were using, and even walk back into the store and re-trace our steps. I ask the cashier "Has anyone turned in a missing shoe?" She looks at me like I've got two heads. No shoe. Of course not. " Oh well. Guess we're stopping at WalMart for some new sandals!"

I walk back to the car, where I now have one crying baby, three very hungry kids, and one sister who was trying to keep them all alive and happy while I was shoe-searching.

We drive back down the road to Taco Bell again. I hop back out, and start to unstrap Noah, explaining that he'll just have to wear one shoe for a while. But then....well, you can all probably guess what happened next. I see it. His missing shoe. Right underneath the seat. Hardly hiding at all. It had been there the whole time. Don't ask me how I missed it. I had shook everything out, moved everything, looked under everything. Or so I thought. But there it was. One size ten brown Pooh-bear sandal.

I clapped my hands in delight, Noah smiled and wrapped his arms around me, and my sister gave me a look that said "Oh, gee, thanks for including me in this super-fun expedition!" :)






Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Meal Plan.....and little boys :)

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  • Ahhhhh....these two little boys. They'd like you to believe they're all sweet and innocent, sitting here on the swing reading books. But if you had peeked into our life today, you would have seen that, between the two of them, they managed to go through four different sets of clothes, tried to swipe a candy bar at the check-out lane, broke a picture, woke up their baby sister from nap time, and probably a whole host of other things I'm just too tired to remember now. Little boys......their cuteness saves them :)

    Anyway.......I haven't posted a meal plan in a while, so I thought you all might like to see what we'll be eating this week. (Also a great way to get new meal ideas if you're stuck in the same-five-recipes rut yourself :) And yes, dear Thursday Sisters, you will see some of your recipes from last week in here too :)


    Wednesday: Chicken-Green bean- stir fried rice, fresh watermelon, vanilla pie cups for dessert (simply make little mini pie-crust cups in a muffin pan and fill them with vanilla pudding, whipped cream and fresh raspberries)
    Thursday : Sausage and Sweet Potato Bake, spinach-mandarin orange-pecan-poppyseed salad
    Friday: Ultimate veggie  pizza (a homemade whole wheat pizza crust topped with stir-fried zucchini, squash, tomatoes and red onion)
    Saturday: Crusty Mexican Bean Bake, Green Beans
    Sunday: 'Kerf' bean and veggie wraps
    Monday: Corn Cheddar  tomato Quiche,  creamed peas, cheddar bay biscuits
    Tuesday: Beef Enchiladas, a simple side salad





    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    Definitely printing this one...

    I thought I would shock you all and actually post a picture of myself on here. We don't have very many pictures of me because I hate having my picture taken I'm always the one taking pictures. (I seriously am trying to get better about not complaining when my picture is being taken!!)

    A friend of mine snapped this one of Leanna and I  the other day at her daughter's birthday party, and I fell instantly in love!I thought it was too good not to share :)




    A 'new normal'

    In Bible Study last Thursday evening, we were all talking about 'new normals' You know, when something unexpected or unwanted happens in your life, and you have to learn to live with a 'new normal'.

    The first 'new normal' I could remember happening in my life was the summer I was 13. I had lived in the same house pretty much my whole life, but my family was getting ready to move. I didn't want to. We were only moving 20 minutes up the road, but to me, it might as well have been 2,000 miles. I was having to face my first 'new normal'

    Little did I know, though, that the new house we were moving to was across the road from the house where my future husband was living! I often look back now and say that if my family hadn't moved, well....Joel Curtis may have never even noticed Jaime Skidmore....and the rest is history.

    I kind of feel like the 'Jaime' of our first house is a totally different 'Jaime' than the girl who grew up across from Joel's family, went to college, got married, had babies.......it's like I'm a totally different person now.

    I hadn't driven past our old house for years....maybe since before I was married, I can't remember. So, after our discussion last Thursday evening, when I found out we were going to be down that way today, I asked Joel if he'd mind leaving a few minutes early and driving past. I had to look twice to make sure it was the same house! The huuuuge pine tree that used to be smack dab in the middle of the yard was gone. The siding was light beige instead of white, and the shutters were green, not black. The clothes line was gone, and there was a new little railing around the front porch. But it looked very nice, and, yes....it was my old house. The old house was still there, and a flood of memories came rushing back. I pulled out my camera and snapped a picture.

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    And there you have it. The house I grew up in. Or, rather, the house I lived in when I was a little girl, before I grew up :)

    My mama pulled my first tooth here. It was here that we brought my baby brother and sister home from the hospital. It was here that I sat at the piano on summer evenings, playing my little lessons with the front door open. It was here that I learned to ride a bike. It was here that we brought our puppy home---my faithful, wild Precious puppy, who remained with our family for another nine years. It was here that our family was all together, healthy and happy, with no idea that Mom would be gone a mere 14 years after moving from that house.

    The new house that we moved into....growing up......getting married.......those are all 'new normals' that I got used to. They were happy 'new normals'. But this losing my Mama.....it is a 'new normal' I will never get used to. For the rest of my life, I will look back on my first 28 years as 'the way things were supposed to be, when they were right'.  Life goes on.....good things are happening.....but they're happening without my Mama.

    Leanna has her first birthday in a week.....our first 'first birthday' without Mom. A new normal. It's yucky, and it stinks, and I will feel her absence at Leanna's party like a hole in my heart.


    I miss my Mom every day.......but I am a Mama now, to four beautiful children.......and everyday we are building up our own set of memories. I only pray that I can be as good a Mom as my own Mama was.

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    Amusing

     We were having family devotions this morning after breakfast. I asked the kids if they knew which mountain Moses climbed to get the Ten Commandments from God. Cosette quickly responded with: "Mt. Everest?" Haha. You just never know what's going to come out of their mouth next! Especially Eli. No matter how often we drill him on proper social etiquette, he always manages to say the most impolite things. He told a neighbor lady the other day "Hey, you have lots of gold shiny stuff in your mouth!" At his birthday party , he told Cosette "Thanks for the card Cosette, even though I didn't really like it" Aagghh!! What's a Mama to do? :)


    The other thing that amuses me with children is how much they want to 'help'. And how often their 'helping' is actually hindering :) But, nevertheless, of course we let them help. How else would they actually learn how to do things?

    For example, when Joel saw these pictures of the boys, he laughed and said ''They are really bad at sweeping up that grass!" But they were so tickled to be 'helping out' after Joel had mowed the lawn. And they 'swept and swept'  for a long time with all their little might :)


    Not sure why Noah is still wearing a bike helmet in this picture.
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    I love that they're both wearing red shirts in this picture---they look just like tweedle dee and tweedle dum :)
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    She was quite delighted when I gave her a bowl with a little bit of vanilla ice cream in it. I think some of it may have actually made it into her mouth :)
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    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    School year in review

     Tomorrow is our last day of school for the year. I will officially have a graduated second grader, a graduated kindergartener, a graduated two-year-older who enjoyed making messes during school, and a graduated nurser (well, almost----she's kinda rebelling against the cow's milk right now)

    There were some days (okay, many days) where I had the thought of "I don't think I can do this! I wonder if the local private school has any openings......" But then, I'd remember that it's not all about ME, it's all about GOD. And if I simply asked, He'd give me the grace to get through each day, which He did. And not only 'get through'----I loved so much about having school with the kids this year! And, while there was the occasional 'melt down' for Cosette over her math lesson, (she IS her mother's daughter, after all)  I think that all in all they both enjoyed the year as well.

    I was just reflecting on some of the things that we had the most fun with this year....


    One of the high-lights was definitely seeing Eli learn how to read. And boy, can the boy read! ;) He reads everything----from signs to cereal boxes to our devotional book. I am so, so, so proud of him. He's only five, you know. (Couldn't help it, had to say it....I'll stop bragging now :) I know I've mentioned this book on here before, but I highly recommend  "Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons." Will it work for everybody? Of course not----it's only a book, not a miracle! But, it's worked well for our two oldest, and I think it would probably work for a LOT of other children as well.

    Another high-light was sitting on the couch with Cosette each morning to do her Spanish lesson. I knew Spanish fairly well in college, but I'd lost a lot of it since then. It's been fun to sit with her and re-learn some stuff, and have fun trying our new skill out on each other through the day. "Cosette, tienes hambre?" "Si, mama, tengo mucho hambre" We laughed one day when her (adult) language course wanted her to learn how to say '' Would you like red wine or white wine?" We switched the wording to "Red milk or white milk?" and decided that red milk must be strawberry :)


    Watching Noah learn stuff 'behind my back' was also a high-light of the year. I would frequently find him curled up on the couch, looking at library books while the big kids did school. Today, he came to me with our number train, pointed to the number '2' and said 'two', and held up two fingers! Now, this may not seem like a big deal to those of you who have two year olds who talk up a storm each day, but for Noah, each new word he learns is a happy day!


    Okay, can I just admit right here what my most favorite part of each school day was? It was about 7:00 a.m. each morning, after Joel leaves for work, the boys are still asleep, and Cosette is in her room reading or doing chores. Leanna and I snuggle up on my bed together for her first morning nursing. I read my Bible or pray while she nurses happily. Then when she's done, we snuggle and cuddle and laugh and tickle and play "Where's Leanna? Boo!" And sometimes she gives me kisses. It's just the frosting on the cake, you know? And you say "But that's not school!" I beg to differ! I'm teaching my child to love....to play....to communicate with words to another human being...to know what it feels like to love and be loved. And that is education at it's finest.

    And so, while our formal 'book studies' are over for the summer, there is so much more education that will happen around here during the next three months....


    We'll play and run and soak in the sunshine. We'll plant a garden and blueberry bushes. We'll study the plants as they grow and (hopefully) enjoy a harvest of fruits and vegetables.

    We'll go on walks to the park and little boys will build strong muscles on the jungle gym.

    We'll play on our soccer teams, and the kids will learn the value of team-manship and good exercise.

    We'll read together, laugh together, play together, work together. Leanna will learn to walk, Eli will work on pronouncing his 'r's', Cosette will keep up her Spanish lessons, and Noah will hopefully learn a new word or two :)  Oh, and we plan on going through stacks...and I mean stacks.....of library books. Look out, librarian ladies, it's summer at the Curtis household!!


    Good-bye, school year, Hello, summer learning.....





    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    No question about it

    "He who finds a wife finds a good thing 
    And obtains favor from the Lord" Proverbs 18: 22

    At least, that's the way it should be, right?

    Are you a blessing to your husband?

    Do you see it as one of your life's callings to love him, serve him, rejoice over him, and honor him?

    Do you greet him with a smile when he comes in the door?

    Do you mention how much you appreciate all he does, or are you too busy 
    complaining about the dirty socks he left on the floor?

    Are you loving your children, realizing that each day he leaves them with you to go to work,
    he's showing his faith in you to be their leader, trainer, educator and Mama?

    Do you quietly slip your hand into his as you walk through the grocery store, proud that
    this man walking by your side chose you so long ago?

    Do you pray for him each and every day, asking God to keep him safe, be with Him, 
    and allow him to be a minister to others?

    Do you quietly ignore and pretend not to notice when one time out of ten
    he skips the salad at dinner, or do you fault him for it and his 'unhealthy choice' (guilty!!)

    Do you comb your hair, put on clean clothes, and maybe even a little make-up
     most days, because your husband would appreciate someone pretty to look at
    when he gets home, instead of something the cat drug in?

    Do you cultivate a quiet and loving spirit in your heart, making your home a peaceful and safe place to be?

    Do you make him rejoice each and every day all over again that he chose you so long ago,
    that he gets to spend his life with you......that he has 'found a wife'?


    No? I'm not surprised. I'm still working on it too. But even if God never calls you into the mission field, even if He never calls you to adopt a child, or go into full time ministry, or...whatever.......this one thing you can be sure of. You are your husband's wife. This ministry in your life is sure...it's not a question. Your husband has 'found a good thing'........don't take the calling too lightly :)








    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Do your work as unto the Lord....


    I cringed as Noah practically 'threw' the dirty plates into the sink. I was just waiting on one to shatter. And I realized how I would have to rinse them all off later and load them into the dishwasher. But he was helping. He was doing his 'chore', and he was mighty proud of himself.


    And it occurred to me that I've never really shared on here how our family does 'chores'. I realize that many mamas have themselves more organized than I might, or who have crafty 'chore charts' and such.....but I am simply sharing what works for our family. It's not necessarily the 'best way' out there, but it's at least one way. Maybe it will get your creative juices flowing on how to get your smaller children helping out around the house. Now, grant it, all of my kids are small, and I've never had teenagers yet, so that is a totally un-walked path for me so far. I will have to handle that new challenge when I get there :) So, anyway, here goes.....


    Each morning, my older two children are responsible for two things---get themselves dressed, and take care of dirty sheets/blankets on their bed, and get them to the hamper. This is mostly an issue for Eli, who doesn't want to wear pull-ups to bed anymore, but still occasionally has an accident during the night.  After that is done, they can come downstairs for breakfast.

       After we've had breakfast and family devotions, then each child gets their morning chore assigned to them. The chore changes each morning, based on what I need to have done around the house. Usually, though, Cosette and Eli are responsible for things like gathering the trash and putting in clean trash bags in the bathrooms, filling the hand soaps, putting away any clean laundry, sweeping up the bathroom floor, gathering the dirty laundry, stuff like that. Noah often does stuff like put the breakfast plates in the sink, put the library books on the shelf, etc. They know to expect the chore assignment right after breakfast. I simply say "Eli, your job this morning is two fill the hand soaps.'', or whatever. After their chores are done, then we are free to start school.

        In the afternoons, after quiet times, they also get an afternoon chore assigned. This may be a slighty harder chore, like vacuuming the living room rug, shining a window, folding some laundry, or drying some dishes. Noah's afternoon chore may be as simple as picking up some toys.

       Oh, I forgot to mention that each child is also responsible on a daily basis to keep their rooms cleaned up. Cosette is much better at this than the boys----rarely does she need any help or reminding. Eli and Noah, however, often have to be reminded, and sometimes their room is soooo messy that it requires a mama's helping hand. But that's all part of training, right? I tell Eli "If your room looks significantly better in ten minutes, then I will help you finish the rest. But if it still looks the same, then you will have to keep working on your own."

          And that's it----it's as simple as that! I don't give stickers, or money, or anything like that. (Not that incentives are wrong, I've just been trying to simplify this part of our lives.) They are expected to do their work quickly, right away, and with a 'happy face'.  Sometimes there are also little things that I ask them to do during the day, like help clear or set the table, put away the school books, or play with Leanna while I start dinner.

    And that's what works well for us. It's enough to teach them the value of hard work, and it's also getting to the point that it's also a good help for me too! Yay for big kids! I'd love to hear how all you mamas out there handle chores at your houses.....






    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Beauty is as beauty does....

    "But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:4-7

    God's Word spoke richly to me this morning. What a beautiful passage to remind me of God's goodness as I started out my day. Do you start your day out with God? I highly recommend it. :)  There were many things that went 'wrong' with my day today, and I could have focused on them and turned sour myself. (Believe me, I do that alllllll the time) But today, I chose to focus on this passage of Scripture, on God's great love for me, and on hopefully displaying this same love to my children. And, in keeping this Scripture in my brain all day long, I was able to find all the beauty around me....

    The first source of beauty came in my daughter....where else?


    I hope you don't get bored with all of these photos. I just couldn't resist. She was wearing her new butterfly- strawberry outfit, and the sun was so gorgeous and warm....it was calling me to do a photo shoot on the front steps! Okay, her outfit wasn't exactly 'new-new'---it was from GoodWill. And she didn't exactly need any new summer clothes......but I'm a sucker for $2.00 cute baby clothes from GoodWill! Hey, I guess my husband is just glad I'm not a sucker for $50.00 cute baby clothes from an expensive baby store ;)

    I know, I know....she's the cutest thing walking the face of the planet right now....but feel free to remind me again, I don't mind :)
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    "Hmmmm.....don't mean to be rude, but you're blocking my light, mom, and I'm trying to get a little sun...."
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    Where's Leanna?? Peekaboo!
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    And another new trick---pointing! At least it's cute when you're only 11 months!
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    The second source of beauty was flowers. We're planting our flower beds, ordering new tulip bulbs for next spring...Cosette is just as excited as I am!
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    And the last source of beauty came in laughter.

    Eli asked if he could have a snack after nap-time. I told him he could share a banana with Noah. I assumed that he would break it in half, giving one to him and the other to Noah. But I turned around to find this:



    First a bite for you.....
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    Then a bite for me! They ate the whole banana this way :)
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    Sunday, May 08, 2011

    Mother's Day Blessings

    So, the first Mother's Day without my mom was sad. Every part of me ached to wrap my warms around her and say 'I love you'. Our pastor's wife had the blessed idea to set up a table in the back where we could set up 'memory' displays in honor of our mother's---living OR gone ahead. So that was nice----a way to honor my Mom, even though she wasn't here to see it.

    However, as much as I missed my Mama, my life was still blessed to over-flowing this weekend. My husband made lunch for us this afternoon (yummy quesadillas, at my request!), and we were able to enjoy it with my in-laws. It was such a blessing to have Joel's mom here with us on this day when I was missing my own mom so much. My sister also ate with us----we were sharing 'mom' memories with each other as the day went along. Then, later in the afternoon after our guests had left, the kids helped Joel to plant some new blueberry bushes in our yard.

    And also, yesterday, I had the pleasure of watching my kids at their first soccer practices/games. This was fun, fun, fun! The morning started out cold and rainy, but it got gradually sunny and warmer as the day wore on. Here are some pictures of my little people:



    Daddy is coaching Cosette's team. This was AFTER we had convinced Cosette that purple tights are not meant to be worn under your soccer uniform!
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    Cosette did not enjoy the first game of the day much, as she was cold and got knocked in the face at one point. However, as it got warmer, she started to have more fun. AYSO does just six players on a team for this age group, so each player gets lots of field and ball time, which is great.
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    Eli's jersey is red. He is so handsome in it---a mini Joel! :)
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    Think Noah looks sad in this picture with Grandma? He was so upset that he wasn't allowed to play in the game that he sat on his ball like this for a long time. I hope he's old enough to play next year! Poor guy!
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    My little Leanna Rose sat on her blanket happily, eating cheerios and soaking in the sunshine.
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    Yep, it was a week-end full of my four Mother's Day blessings---Cosette Elise, Elias Jacob, Noah Shaun and Leanna Rose. Love these four little people!










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