Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Favorite Picture

I know I've probably said this a million times about all of my kids...but this little guy has brought so much joy to each of our lives. He is such a happy baby and sweet to his brothers and even the dog. As #3, he is developing quickly since he desperately wants to keep up with his adoring big brothers. He would much rather play with their toys than his own and just this past week he has even started standing on his own.

This time last year, we had no idea how much our lives would change in only a few short months. I think it's fair to say that every member of our family is delighted that God brought Ty into our family.

I love this picture of my baby and me - though I often find aspects of this stage in life challenging, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I'm constantly reminded how blessed I am with my three beautiful boys and amazing husband. I never want to take these years for granted.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Making It Work

We are debating all of the sleeping arrangements in our house. We have three bedrooms. Currently, Calvin & Patrick share and Titus has been sleeping in the guest room (his main crib is in their room but that isn't working). I think we are going to trade beds with my parents and let them use our guest queen and we'll use one of their twins.

We have been debating whether to just put Titus in that room or whether to separate the boys and put one of them with Titus and give the other one his own room. You see, bed time has not been fun lately - the boys keep each other up, get out of bed, and just generally aren't minding very well. BUT when we put them in separate rooms, everything is way better. We really want them to be successful in the obedience and sleep departments and we truly want bedtime to be a positive, good time.

Since we aren't moving any time soon, we have to come up with a new plan. So I think (as much as this pains me), we are going to have to give up having a dedicated guest room. We love having overnight company but the reality is that this is the house God has given us (we really do like it - we just built it before kids! :)) and we need to make it work the best that we can for our family. We will still have a hide-a-bed and an air mattress and an extra twin bed but it won't be quite the same. :)

Now we have to determine who goes in what room. I'm excited to see how these changes (and the new black out curtains) will work to improve bed times, nap times, and even cleaning. I'm sure that some day they may be able to share a room again, but I really think this will be the best way to make things better and to give them success.

On another note, Titus has been sleeping MUCH better. We've been able to drop the late night bottle - he has a bottle right at bedtime (between 8 and 9) and then he has been sleeping until 5:30 or 6. This is truly amazing! I'm not ready to say it's a permanent change yet, but it has been great for the past week or so. Maybe it will stick!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spending Time with Great-Grandparents

My mom, the boys and I had the privilege of visiting my grandparents for a few hours during Spring Break week. It was fun and the boys just love all of their grandparents and great-grandparents. I'm so thankful they have a chance to know my grandparents. We have been blessed with a tremendous heritage. Here are just a few pictures from our visit.

The "Grandpa Trap" - I think every grandkid has been caught in this many times. :)

Visiting about school and games.

Titus charming everyone :) - they hadn't seen him since Nov. He has changed a lot!

The boys with my grandparents. Such wonderful times building memories.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Something New

Saturday night, some friends of ours arranged a surprise evening. We met up at a local Mexican restaurant for fantastic food and then we had a 30-minute private salsa lesson. Of the five couples, only one knew how to salsa. And despite our initial nerves (we are really, really not good dancers), we had a great time! It was a wonderful workout, we actually caught on a little, and we had a chance to watch others after our lesson as people started arriving for the "dance party."

While I don't think salsa dancing will become our new hobby :), we would try it again. I think it probably gave us a little more confidence when we are at weddings or events with dancing. All in all, a fun evening with great friends! Here's to trying something new!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I've not been doing very well with menu planning lately. I've had loose plans but I'm finding that things aren't getting used up as well. So...I decided to participate in Menu Plan Monday today after a couple of months hiatus. At least for this week, I think it will help me to do a better job at using all the produce we have.

- Spaghetti & Meatballs, Salad, Sauteed Zuchini, Garlic Breadsticks

- Hamburgers w/mushrooms, caramelized onions, balsamic mayo & cheese, Carrot Salad, Fruit Salad, Chips

- Pizza (probably vegetarian or cheese), Veggies & Dip, Apples

- Grilled Steak & Black Bean Mixed Green Salads w/avacado, tomatoes, etc. :), Bread, Fruit

- Eggs, Pancakes, Yogurt

Friday night will hopefully be a date night this week. So there you have it - the plan. I'm hoping the weather is nice and we can enjoy eating out on the deck and using our grill. Check out for menu inspiration. :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Gardening Season

Today is a BEAUTIFUL day! Gardening is the plan, so we are off the store for plants and seeds and flowers with three little boys in tow. :) They may get a play set today...we'll see. And we desparately need an umbrella for over our outdoor table after our entire table with the umbrella flipped and broke last year. We have the worst luck with umbrellas - a new one just about every year. :)

Anyway, I love the start of gardening season - the smell of the soil, the beauty of the plants, and most of all...the anticipation of delicious produce. Ah, summer. Enjoy your day!

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Look Back

Since Calvin celebrated his birthday this week, I thought it would be fun (at least for me :)) to look back at each of his birthdays with us. The first we had the privilege of celebrating with him as our son was when he turned 2 (he came home October of 2006 and turned 2 in April 2007). Here is a pic from each year - I can't believe how much he has changed!




Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Heart

I'm often asked if it's been great having a newborn and while my answer is yes, I have absolutely loved it, it's been a bit bittersweet. The past 8 months have also been very hard - hard as I more fully realize the neediness of infants. It pains my heart that I wasn't able to be there for my other two. I feel so sad that they didn't have someone nurturing and taking care of them. And while I know that their caregivers did the best that they could and they loved our children (that was clear), the reality is that they couldn't possibly attend to every need. So while these months have been so fun watching Ty grow and develop, they have also deeply touched my heart. It has effected my parenting style and parenting decisions. I definitely tend towards attachment parenting and I know it's because of our experience in the orphanages and our experience now as parents of a newborn.

So you see, my heart has been heavy in the midst of joy. It has been amazing and I wouldn't trade our experiences for the world but that won't stop the sad realization of the months we missed and of the children now who are waiting. But I'm so thankful for each of my children and thankful that God knew when each of them needed to come to us. I'm thankful for their growth and development and the many, many moments we do get to enjoy!

And I hug my kids a little closer, spoil them just a little, and pray.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Birthday in Pictures!

The Birthday Boy - anxiously awaiting present time! :)

Who isn't excited by a pile of presents?!

Patrick watched as Calvin unwrapped the gift he choose to give him - 2 monster trucks. He was happy that Calvin wanted to share. :)

This was his main gift...

He started to realize what it was...

He was thrilled! After weeks of air guitar and using books, arms, elbows etc. as guitars, he now has one to play. He loves music and has been enamored with guitars especially!

The face of a happy musician.

The cake coming his way....
Blowing out the 4 candles.

A delighted boy!

The Orange Racecar Cake! I was pretty happy with the way it turned out but the real test was whether Calvin liked it - he chose a chocolate cake and I filled it with strawberry filling. Yum!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Calvin's 4!

Dear Calvin,

Can you really be 4? It seems like yesterday that you came into our lives and forever changed them for the better.

Calvin, you are an amazing son. You are affectionate and sweet. Every time you tell me that you love me, I melt even more. I love every single hug and kiss. And I love that you still like to sit on my lap and cuddle.

You have worked so hard this year on speech and wow, you have come such a long way! Your dad and I are so proud of you. You are learning so much at school and your teacher tells us you are doing well. You are artistic and creative and still a ham. Just recently you have really started to tease us and make jokes. One of your highest compliments is, "Mom, you're p[f]unny." Your eyes are constantly dancing with mischief.

This past year, you visited the beach for the first time and loved it! You also helped us welcome your baby brother and have excelled even more as a big brother. I love hearing the pride in your voice as you tell your friends, "This is OUR baby."

I am still in awe that God chose you to be our son. I cannot imagine our family any other way. I love you forever and always, no matter what.

Happy 4th Birthday, Calvin!


Monday, April 20, 2009

It's Monday

We had a very productive weekend - yay! We are still working on things but it feels great to have actually gotten some things done and our room is looking SO much better. I think I slept better just knowing that.

Andrew is off today for a family day to begin celebrating Calvin's birthday (which is actually tomorrow but he has school then). We are all excited! Last year it was gorgeous, warm, and sunny - this year, not so much. :)

Calvin's big request was to go to the "Donut House" - a favorite local bakery. So, the first stop will be there. He LOVES donuts and I'll admit, these are pretty amazing.

So, I'm off for a day of fun with my favorite people in the whole world. Pictures, birthday post, and more to come this week! Have a wonderful Monday - I'm not usually a huge fan of Mondays so today will be a great change of pace! :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Place for Everything

Today is tackle the bedroom and clothes day. :) It's gotten out of control between busy-ness and illness. Thankfully, the older boys were invited over to a friend's house this morning until nap time. I'm so excited that we will have several hours to work uninterrupted (well, except for the baby :)). Warm weather always puts me in the mood to do some deep cleaning. I think I'm about to finish the clothes switch and just be done with the winter clothes. I'll leave out a few outfits but that's it - perhaps it will force the cold weather away.

Amvets is coming next week and I hope to have a big pile of donations for them. I love that they pick it up! Tuesday is Calvin's birthday so I know there will be plenty of new things coming in the door which means we need to de-junk first.

I've written many times before about the struggle to stay organized and it's just that - a constant struggle. In my ideal world everything would have a place and be in that place but in reality it pretty much never happens that way. :) I don't function very well in the mess and disorganization and I find myself often overwhelmed. So, while I do make progress and I did start the year strong, it's tough to keep the momentum.

I think the most difficult part is that I'm the only one in the house that has very strong feelings about organization. :) In a house with three boys, a dog, and two adults, it doesn't take long for things to spiral out of control. Sometimes, I'm pretty sure I'd like to cut our living space by 2/3s just to downsize and seriously consider what we need and use. I think it would be a great excercise. But for now, I'm going to lobby hard for donating items, eliminating papers, and finding a place for everything. Anyone need a car toddler bed?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Delish :)

Dinner sounds so appealing when the kids think it's "caterpillars" and "snakes." Yum. At least they were excited! :) The budget has been a bit tight but not THAT tight... :) And while it's a delicacy in some areas of the world, it's not an area of food we've opted to explore. :)

It was actually shrimp w/spinach & chive pasta.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Camping Out"

Last week, for spring break, I combined several of the ideas into one fun day. :) The weather wasn't very nice so we set up camp inside. We "roasted" marshmallows on forks over our pretend fire (I missed getting a picture of it) and made s'mores. I set up the tent with sleeping bags and pillows and got the boys' camp chairs out. I popped popcorn and the watched Wall-E - all in the middle of the day. I think they had a good time! Here are a few pictures:

These two are tight and she loves all the attention.

Cheesing for the camera in his camp chair.

The "campsite." You can see the "fire" in the lower left corner.

The tent - ready for "outdoor" fun!

Pippi thought it was so comfy and great. :)

Thanks for all the great suggestions. I've tucked several away for future use! I'm pretty sure I'll need some creative ideas for this summer!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Basket Fun

Waiting to check out their Easter!

Titus was totally in on the action. :)

Showing Great-Grandma how Pez worked and getting help re-loading it.

Pez was definitely a hit and I think everyone had an appetizer of grape or orange Pez candy. :)

Pippi, basking in the sun and enjoying all of the people!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Desserts

While I missed getting pictures of our Easter meal, I did remember to pull out the camera and take pictures of the desserts. I liked doing "finger desserts" - it was nice and light for after a big brunch/dinner.
Mini Cheesecakes w/Balsamic Strawberries

Carrot Cupcakes w/Cream Cheese Frosting

Brown Sugar Shortbread w/Chocolate & Pecans

Lemon Cream Cupcakes w/Lemon Frosting

Monday, April 13, 2009

Our Handsome Little Men

I was so excited to find matching outfits in all of their sizes - I know they won't let me do that for very long. :) And yes, Titus has been drooling like crazy - at least it's not spit-up! Natural smiles are hard to come by these days and we never seem to capture all three but I was happy with this attempt. I'll post more Easter pics this week as well as photos from our spring break fun. :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter - Updated

**UPDATED - No strep! I'm so thankful. It's just a cold/virus. All three of them have had it and a big praise, Titus' lungs have remained clear despite his nasty sounding cough.**

We all (amazingly) made it to church this morning and 15 of the 17 expected were at dinner. We have one that woke up from his nap with a fever but not feeling bad (after being well over 24 hours without one). Tomorrow, we head to the doctor. I'm concerned that it may be strep and I hope we didn't share - we would have cancelled or had it elsewhere if we had suspected he was still sick. Pictures hopefully to come! All in all, it was a really nice day and my boys looked super handsome in their matching outfits! :)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Menu?

I'm spending today prepping for the Easter dinner that may not happen. :) Between everyone in my family, there are about 4 different illnesses going around. Lovely. We have two of them but seem to be on the mend after a rough night of fever and stomach illness for one of the boys. It's a beautiful day and we are hoping that tomorrow's brunch/dinner will happen!

I've been going back and forth on the menu a bit but I think this is where it landed (there will be 17 of us):

Assorted Cheeses w/crackers, apples, and pears

Baked Glazed Ham
Egg Casserole (1 - zucchini, pepper, onion, and cheddar & 1 - spinach, mushroom, and swiss)
Potatoes (scalloped or roasted - my SIL is making them)
Asparagus & Tomato Mixed Green Salad
Cucumber Salad
Fruit Salad
Bread Basket

Carrot Cupcakes
Lemon Cupcakes
Mini Cheesecakes w/balsamic strawberries
Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies


We'll see if I get everything done. :) It's 11:15 and I have yet to start. I need to go grocery shopping later (we opted to wait and see how people were feeling today). Andrew is helping my sister and BIL in move this morning. It's a full weekend. Easter baskets and Easter outfits are just about ready to go and I'll have some help with the food contributions and house preparations.

We are rejoicing in the knowledge that Christ is risen and for the wonderful plan of salvation!

Happy Easter, everyone!

Thursday, April 09, 2009


This hasn't been the easiest of days. All three of the boys woke up with fresh colds which cancelled all of our plans for the day. I did, however make tiramisu for my brother's birthday. As part of his gift, that was his request. I searched high and low for lady finger cookies but could not find them - they are evidently seasonal. So, I made my own. And they turned out! That certainly decreases the cost of making this dessert! Here's the recipe I used for the ladyfinger (adapted from and the tiramisu recipe that we like (I'll post a picture later!):


4 eggs, separated
2/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
7/8 cup all-purpose flour


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Line two 17 x 12 inch baking sheets with baking parchment. Fit large pastry bag with a plain 1/2 inch round tube.

Place egg whites in bowl and beat on high until soft peaks start to form. Slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy. In another bowl beat egg yolks and remaining sugar. Whip until thick and very pale in color.

Sift flour and baking powder together on a sheet of wax paper. Fold half the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Fold in flour, and then add the remaining egg whites. Transfer mixture to pastry bag and pipe out onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes.

TIRAMISU (from and Gourmet Magazine)

Expresso Syrup
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup strong brewed espresso coffee
1/4 cup Italian or domestic brandy, optional
Mascarpone Filling
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pound mascarpone cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 pound savoiardi (imported Italian ladyfingers), domestic ladyfingers, or sliced sponge cake
Cocoa powder for dusting the surface

For the syrup, combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat, cool and add coffee and optional brandy.

For the filling, whip cream with sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Fold cream into softened mascarpone.

To assemble, place a layer of the savoiardi, ladyfingers or sponge cake slices in the bottom of a shallow 2-quart baking dish or gratin dish. Sprinkle with half the syrup. Spread with half the filling. Repeat with remaining savoiardi, syrup and filling, spreading the top smooth, using a metal spatula.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving. Immediately before serving place cocoa in a fine strainer and shake a light coating on surface.

There you have it! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Hearing - Check!

For the first time in over a year, Calvin passed his hearing test! He heard everything. We are so thankful! That means the ear tubes are doing their job. We've noticed such a difference in his language and enunciation the past few weeks which is great! And once again, we are so grateful for the awesome care Calvin is receiving. He measures it in the stuffed animals and gifts (today he was given 2 stuffed animals, a cloth backpack, a new game, 2 cars, and a small Easter basket of goodies) :) - we measure it in the kindness, concern, honesty, and progress.

We are so honored that the hospital will be featuring Calvin as a testimonial in the information sent to prospective patients. We are thrilled that his story will be told and it will even include a picture or two. They called us a couple of weeks ago to ask our permission and we definitely agreed.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Pay Attention

I have recently been caught in the act of half listening to my kids. Calvin will kindly say to me, "Mommy, talk to me." I can't help but smile and give him my full attention.

Gone? For Real?

So, as I mentioned, Titus cut his first tooth last week. In the week since, he has almost completely quit spitting up. I seriously want to do a happy dance! We are making it through whole days wearing only one outfit each - it's amazing!

I thought we surely had another couple of months (at least) before we would be through this stage but now I'm feeling very hopeful that it's over. You may think I'm overeacting to the whole spit-up thing but I can't tell you how many times he would spit-up every day - we went through countless bibs, burp clothes, and outfits. It never bothered him but for the rest of us...yuck.

Anyway, I'm hoping that it's gone for good. It's a welcome and unexpected change around here. Yay for clean clothes! Yay for a new normal!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Spring Break Ideas

This is Spring Break from preschool! We are not going anywhere (other than for a post-op in Chicago for Calvin) but I'm trying to plan some fun activities. Any ideas? We went to the Children's Museum today, tomorrow I won't have a car so I need a home activity, Wednesday we are in Chicago and visiting great-grandparents, and Thursday is open. If you have any brilliant (and easy :)) ideas (okay, the don't have to be brilliant :)), let me know!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

2 Words

Crowds gathered.
Eggs hunted.
Prizes claimed.
Candy consumed.
Lunch shared.
Friends enjoyed.
Beautiful day.
Memories made.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


I LOVE cashmere - the oh-so-soft fabric that makes you feel so warm and stylish. I can't help but touch it longingly as I go by it in the stores. What I don't love is the oh-so-expensive price tag that generally accompanies my favorite fabric. So imagine my delight in finding a brand-new, beautiful purple cashmere sweater that was originally $100 marked down to $10 and I had a coupon for 30% more off. Let that sink in, I’ll yeah, that means it was about $7. And yeah, it pretty much made my, probably my week... :)

My winter wardrobe is pretty sad after everything had to be washed constantly from spit-up this winter, so I was excited to replace a worn out sweater with my purple cashmere find. Ah cashmere – it almost makes me excited for winter to come back around, almost.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Taking the Night Off

Tonight is my night off. :) Andrew has been working a lot already this week (til midnight both of the past nights), so tonight he is doing the bedtime routine and caring for the kids. I made dinner and now I'm headed out to do some grocery shopping - I can't believe I'm actually excited about it. It's been a long first part of the week with Ty's teething and little boys testing boundaries. I'm looking forward to a few hours of alone time - well, my sister is going with me. The boys asked why I was going and I told them that I loved them, so I needed to go out for a little bit. :) They accepted my explanation and are so happy that Daddy is home that I won't be missed much. So I'm off for a night on the least a break. :)