Saturday, December 26, 2009

Gingersnaps Recipe

this small mound of cookies represents the 16 dozen gingersnaps I made last week!

Eric or I or both of us make these scrumptious cookies every December. They are our absolute favorites, and they are really easy and relatively inexpensive to make. We often hand out dozens of them to friends and family around Christmas, so over the years I've had many requests for the recipe. They are just a little spicy, soft, and best after they cool a bit. It is originally Eric's mom's recipe; we owe all the credit to her!

Mom's Gingersnaps

3/4 c. crisco or butter, softened (I only use butter)
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. molasses
2 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cloves
Preheat oven to 350 (Actually, baking at 360 degrees seems to work best in our oven). Mix it all up, but don't mix too long or too fast (the texture will be impossibly wet and goopy). After mixing, form one inch balls of dough and roll them in granulated sugar to coat the outside. Bake for about 10 minutes (we do 9 minutes) and promptly remove from cookie sheet to cool. Enjoy!
ps) This year we thought we might make a good thing better and added a slather of cream cheese frosting on top. Mmmmmmm...

Colorado Christmas: Day 1

Just a warm, relaxed day at 1905 Manor Lane. Esther was a little out of sorts after our 20 hours in the car the previous day. (Side note: the weather has been the talk of the town around here. That, and how we "threaded the needle" by driving out here between blizzards, only spending about 25% of our driving time in icky conditions. Interstates and highways are currently closed because of snow, ice, drifting, or all of the above, so we are glad we got here when we did!). Great Grandpa Knudtsen had a soft touch, and fussy Esther enjoyed sitting quietly with him for hours of the day.
Eva and Hope played with the assortment of toys here, some that have been passed down through generations and some that are new garage sale finds. Here Hope is playing with huge toy trains that were an extravagant gift to Great Grandpa when he was a boy.
Grandma referred to the month of December as "the great freeze", during which she baked and cooked and froze food every day. Now we are experiencing the "the great thaw", eating the fruit of her labor. She says that the real challenge is to get everything thawed on the right day and at the right time :). It is no small task to feed 28 people and still have time for plenty of card games!
...Or Scrabble games. Eric and Dalton had the highest scoring words, 120 and 108 respectively.
And what would Christmas at 1905 Manor Lane be without a few hands of "Pounce"?!? The women gathered around the table to raise their blood pressure and chip a few fingernails. The alternate name for this game is "Bloody Knuckles." Enough said!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

(almost) Wordless Wednesday

A grey day and a brisk walk... A bundled boy... A secret, furry nuzzle... A snuggled sleepy-head..A brand-spankin'-new stroller...Ahhhhh.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Pearl Harbor Day

My dear hubby's birthday was this month (groan! I started this post three days BEFORE his birthday and I'm just now posting it!). You guessed it, he shares his special day with the national holiday, Pearl Harbor Day. Because I am not really, really good at writing nice things that don't get extra long, I will attempt to honor him using the favorite elementary school vocabulary building activity: an adjective for each letter of your name.


E - Emotional. I thought for the bulk of our marriage that your love of logical arguments and well-reasoned approach to planning meant that you weren't very emotional. I was wrong, and I stand corrected. I love that you cry at sappy movies and sometimes during worship at church. You make the perfect daddy for little girls since you love being cuddly and tender.

R - Righteous. Over the past six months I have admired an increased desire for godliness and discipline in your life. God is bringing you to a new place in your walk with him... a place that requires self-discipline and a "dependent effort," as you like to say. Psalm 97:11-12 comes to mind, as well as Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they will be filled."

I - Involved. I am ever thankful to have an husband who wants to be involved in raising our daughters. At the very least, you participate with me each day in dinnertime craziness and bedtime extra-craziness.

C - Comedian. You're funny, which is one of the reasons I had so much fun with you before we were married. Most of your joking comes out when we're in a group of people, and I love watching you get a few laughs.

H - Hospitable. You lead the way in making our home and family a place where hospitality happens. I would have people over occasionally on my own, but you make it a constant activity and it is such fun!

A - Ambitious. You are competitive and aggressive, whether at work or play. Don't even think of winning a board game without a serious challenge from Eric! I'm proud of how hard you work at your job and how you strive for excellence there.

N - Nostalgic. You love to reminisce, which is fun and refreshing.

S - Stable. Although you may be emotional and nostalgic, you are level headed and calm in leading our family. You always have an optimistic outlook and a certainty that things will be OK. You make me feel safe and provided for.

E - Explorer. This is not one of your prominent character traits, but it sure is fun when your French-Canadian heritage shines through and you want to adventure with me in the great outdoors. On a related note, you are always eager for a new adventure in other areas of life too: learning a new skill, visiting a new place, expanding your knowledge about something.

N - Nurturing. You are a marvelous father, always excited to help the girls grow, learn, and explore. You eagerly spend time with them and take the time to make them feel special and loved.
Eric Hansen, I'm thankful to be your wife and impressed with the man God is forming you to be. Happy 31st Birthday!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas letter, 2009

EDIT: I am so sorry that this is cramped and hard to read! I am in a fight with blogger right now, and I might not win. My apologies!
Wow, another year has passed! I so look forward to Christmastime, despite it's hectic and over scheduled nature. Believe it or not, I also look forward to writing a Christmas update, letting people know what has been going on in our lives and reflecting on the past 365 days. This year, like every other, has been full of ups and down and lots of firsts for kids and parents alike. More ups than downs, thankfully- and that will be the subject of this year's letter.

At the close of 2009 the Patenaude's are extremely thankful for...

...Sisters! Our crew now numbers three, and three GIRLS at that! We have so much fun watching the girls be sisters together. Playing, pretending, laughing, loving, fighting, and being funny.
...The end of a decent pregnancy with no true complications.
...A face paced and simple delivery, welcoming Esther Hansen Patenaude to the family (October 2).
...A steady job for Eric that meets our needs.
...The sometimes uncomfortable opportunity for reflection and change that Eric's job brings.
...The opportunity for Becca to stay at home with the girls, attempting to shape little people into God-followers.
...The forced humility that comes by parenting and being with these little people day in and day out.
...A co-worker who picks Eric up two days a week so that I (Becca) can use the van. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we scurry around to preschool, errands, and play dates.
...A warm, dry, and snug house.
...The possibility that someday we will live in a warm dry and spacious house. :)
...An emergency room only 4 blocks away. Each of the girls had a trip this year: Eva for stitches in her chin, Hope for anaphalactic shock (egg allergy), Esther for viral meningitis.
...The opportunity to supplement our income by providing daycare for another baby.
...And the last day that the baby came to our house and started being cared for by her own daddy.
...Our not-so-small group at church. We share the intimate details of each other's lives and do our best to "love each other deeply" (1 Peter 1) through word and deed.
...The five weeks of meals provided by our small group after Esther's birth.
...Monday nights when we alternate childcare and dates with our dear friends Aaron and Bethany.
...A growing marriage in which we seem to become increasingly at peace with ourselves and each other.
...Camping. Eric did some hardcore winter camping last January. The rest of us camped with him several times during the summer. It was especially fun to camp with my grandparents and parents at Lake Mille Lacs, a four generational camping trip!
...Levi Justice. We happily welcomed our first cousin on the Spears side, only 4 weeks older than Esther. We're expecting two more cousins on the Patenaude side, bringing the grand total to 12!
...Energy. My days at home are bustling, and I'm thankful for the grace to keep up with it all. I'm also thankful for happy little girls who spin circles around me and make daring leaps off the couch into my lap.
...Fun. Nintendo Wii, trips to the park, bike rides, hiking, sight seeing, relaxing with friends, grilling, and building snow houses are just a few of our entertaining endeavors.
...Visits from friends and family. This year has been a bit slower than years past, but our itty-bitty spare room and bath provided comfort for many dear ones over the past year.
...Good books. I have so enjoyed reading to Eva and Hope this year, particularly the Little House on the Prairie books and the Box Car Children. Eric and I have even cracked a few books lately as well!
...Hard work. Eric continues to get himself into a wide range of home improvement projects, and it seems to be really good for him on many levels. We all enjoy the fruit of his labor when they're complete.
...Friends and family. We are blessed to call many delightful people friends and so thankful that they stick with us through the ups and downs. We also cherish the fellowship of both sides of our family where relationships are strong and constant.
But we are immeasurably thankful for...
...the birth of Jesus, celebrated at Christmas. Through Him we have these abundant good gifts, fellowship with God the Father, and the Holy Spirit to walk with us on this wild journey. Someone recently praised Eric with the words, "you're a good man, Mr. Patenaude." To which he rightly responded, "Noooo, but I have a great Savior!" We are thankful for Jesus' birth, death, and most importantly resurrection this year.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a new year filled with a deeper understanding of God's love for you!

with Thanksgiving,

Eric, Becca, Eva (4), Hope(2), and Esther(2 mos.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We're home!

Praise God, he saw fit to make our hospital stay short and uncomplicated! We came home early this afternoon and have just been resting and enjoying the peace and quiet. Esther is doing much better today. No fever, much less neck pain, and no headache that I can observe. She is eating like a horse (yes, hay and oats ;), and her tummy seems to be feeling better too (no throwing up). The real upturn seemed to be when the other girls came home this evening.

Eva and Hope played at a friend's house all day (thanks, Gibsons!), but came storming in the door around 7:30 tonight. Hope's first words, "Mama? You're home?!?" Eva attacked me with a hug, then ran to smother Esther. Hope wanted to give Esther some big lovin' too, but Eva was sooooo protective of her time with her. She really, really wanted to be alone with Esther, and I could hear her whispering to her about how sweet she is and how much Eva missed her. I also overheard her say, "I bet you're glad to be back with us. Not with those noisy doctors and nurses!" Eva is probably right, but in defense of the "noisy" doctors and nurses, we had WONDERFUL caregivers. I was very pleased and impressed with all of their bedside manor and tenderness for the sick little babe.

No exagerating, after the snuggles, caressing, and laughing with the older girls, Esther finally seemed herself. She was more alert, smiling, and following the girls with her eyes as they ran around doing their thang. As a person from a small family (with my sister and I spaced 6.5 years apart), I am really amazed at how much of a bond my three have already. It's cool.

So, Esther's meningitis turned out to be viral. Caused by some unknown virus (perhaps hand, foot, and mouth which Hope had last weekend) that decided to settle in the lining of her brain. For now, she is happy and doing well. She does have a mild cold and her system will be recovering from the massive amounts of IV antibiotics she was on at the hospital (just a precaution in case the meningitis turned out to be bacterial). We leave for Christmas in Colorado in about a week and have out of town company for four days coming up, so we covet your prayers for our family. We are tired, the house is unkempt, and Esther's health is still on our minds. We are psyched for Ryan and Stephanie and Thor to visit, and psyched to head to Colorado, but still it is a little overwhelming. Pray for complete recovery for Esther and an extra measure of God's grace for me to be an effective home manager, wife, and mom over the next few weeks.

Such a minor blip as this (in the grand scheme of things...) has resulted in our family feeling incredibly loved! I had 99 emails in my inbox today (including facebook and blog comments), most of which were friends and family writing with encouraging words and offers to help us out. We have people bringing meals (thanks Wetzels and Fredricks!) and childcare lined up. Wow! We are so blessed. Thank you, everyone!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Never a dull moment

Hi all-

Just writing a quick note to let y'all know that Esther has been admitted at the University Children's with meningitis. They are unsure yet if she has viral meningitis or bacterial, but they are suspecting viral, which is a better scenario. Please pray for fast and complete healing for her! We were admitted late Saturday night after 24 hours or so of high fevers (103.7 with tylenol). I had actually taken her to the ER on Friday night because of the fever, and after running several tests, they sent us home to wait it out. When the fever didn't subside and she began to have "altered consciousness" we took her straight to the ER here at the U. They went ahead and did a spinal tap, revealing meningitis. At the earliest, we could be discharged on Tuesday sometime, but it could be longer too.

The doctors want to see her fever gone, no sign of bacterial causes, and her skin clear up (she has a rash all over) before they discharge. Please pray for this, and for no lasting complications. Meningitis can be really scary and messy, but the docs think this case will be pretty straight forward, so that is a relief!

We are so thankful for our family and church family who have offered TONS of help. The older girls are being well cared for at home. Tomorrow they'll have a Grandma Day with my mom. After two late nights in the ER and not getting settled into our room until about 4:30 this morning, I am pooped! Pray for me too ;).

Thanks for praying for little Esther!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Photocards Update

I don't know any of you out there are planning to do the free photo cards offer, but they've just sweetened the deal. Now, in addition to the newbaby code I talked about here, they have 50% off their entire site (excluding plain prints) for Sunday (12/6) and Monday (12/7). Plus, they are offering free shipping on all orders of 60 photo cards or more. The coupon code is 2day. That's better than when I ordered them!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Friday Frolics

It's cold and it snowed. Yay! I guarantee I will not be celebrating this sort of event in March, but we've had such a lovely prolonged fall that it feels like "finally." After all, what is December, the Christmas month, without a little white?

The snow has been l-a-z-y, falling for more than 24 hours with little more than a dusting. But since it is here at last, we'll forgive it's slow ways. Happy for me, after less than 15 minutes of zipping, snapping, Velcro-ing, and scarf tying the girls played peaceably outside for at least 20 minutes. That is a pretty good ratio of bundling up to time outdoors when you're working with a two and a four year old. Our new goal will be: better than 15:20 for the next outdoor adventure. I didn't venture off the front stoop, but I still managed to get some shots of cute snow bunnies!
The obligatory "you're finally all bundled up" photos.

Eating snow... when you're two, everything is perceived as a first time experience (what with no memories and all), so you try EVERYTHING!
I just love toddlers all cozied up in their snow gear. Hope could hardly walk and did fall flat on her face a few time. Darn those chunky boots and puffy pants!
The frolicking continued inside. Yes, they achieved this disaster all in one morning. I tell you, that floor was clear when they went to bed last night! Do you notice that Eva's sheets and mattress pad are even off?!? They were playing "travellers." That should tell you something about how we travel ;)!There's the little wrecking ball traveller herself, complete with purple headscarf over her face!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Two year olds

Tonight when I went to check on Hope, who was supposed to be putting a few toys away before bed, I found her wearing five swim diapers and no clothes! It was akin to peeling an onion, getting those diapers off of her.

Yes, FIVE swim diapers, one on top of the other. :)

Christmas Bargain

You all know me to love a good deal! I'm thrifty, budget-minded, and always attempt to stay out of the stores that really drain my pocket book. But around the holidays, it is so hard to stay the course with a small budget!

Ever since we've had children, I've sent a picture greeting card around Christmastime. You know, since I don't send birth announcements I figure I've got to do something to let everyone know that our brood is ever-increasing! Last year I made a valiant effort at frugality by making photo postcards at Kinkos. We saved a lot of money in the cost of the cards, but the savings on postage was pretty great too. I'll admit, the quality of the card wasn't awesome though.

That's why I am psyched for this year's Christmas card! Thanks to Carrie over at Pocket Your Dollars, I found out about, where they have a couple of great coupon codes. Go to the site and make a 4x8 holiday card. Enter the promo code newbaby at checkout and you'll receive 50 cards for only the price of shipping ($3.19 for me). Good deal, eh?!? If you want more than 50 cards, you can make a separate order and enter the promo code photocard which will give you 25% off the order. They also have a deal on that site for 100 free prints to new users (I'm assuming that would have to be your first order ever, so do this before ordering your photo cards).

Although I almost tore my hair out when I first started creating my photocard, after I figured out how to use the site I really like Your photo cards can be almost completely customized, unlike the cards you might order from Wal-mart or Target. Use as many pictures as you want with a wide range of clip art, text, backgrounds, etc. I will probably use this site again, now that I've figured out the software!

I hear jingle bells jingling and coins jangling (in your pocket of course, after you've saved so much on your holiday cards)!!!

Happy card making :)!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kickin' it with Esther

It is no secret that Eva adores Esther. A.D.O.R.E.S., yes she does!

Yesterday, Esther was a little fussy as I was getting breakfast ready, sitting in her bouncer and waiting for her turn to eat. In sympathy, Eva sat down next to her and bounced her, which calmed the whimpering right away. In fact, I had to use a very stern voice to get Eva to actually leave the baby's side and come eat her own breakfast. She said, "but I don't like her to cry." Ohhhhh.

Immediately after breakfast, Eva ran to get some wooden blocks and sat down next to the bouncer again. Every time she sits down by Esther and starts talking to her, Esther's eyes get so alert and a crooked little smile lights up her face. Eva has discovered that all that singing, talking, and silly baby talk has the grandest reward ever when the little one actually beams you a happy smile. It is so, so, so fun to watch these two interact. I think that Eva gets more love from Esther than any of the rest of us.

Anyway, yesterday's game was baby soccer. Eva would take those little wooden blocks, hold them to Esther's pajama'd feet and say, "kick it, Esther!" at which point Eva would toss the block up in the air away from Esther's little toes. That would be followed by giggling (Eva), smiling (Esther), and lots of encouragement. "Good job, Esther! You'll be really good at this when you get bigger! Nice kick, Esther!"

I had to stop my puttering to watch the game and cheer along, it was so sweet. I am one proud soccer-mom!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Week in review

I tend to build posts around pictures, so since our camera's gone missing, I've been wracking my brain for something to post about. Anything. Something. Well, I've finally got it. I'll write about our everyday lives. And you'll see them for what they really are... typical, routine, uninspiring, dare I say it: boring.

1. The camera is missing. Hopefully it will be found when we head home this week for Thanksgiving. We think Eric left it at his Dad's house when they went deer hunting a few weeks ago. I feel unable to enjoy the moment if I can't attempt to preserve it in digital format. Strange person, I am.

2. We have not had H1N1. We have had a run of the mill round of coughing and sore throats. Even poor little Esther experienced her first viral infection at the ripe old age of 6 weeks. She handled it gracefully (thanks be to God!), and we all pretty much better except for a lingering cough here and there. Nobody missed preschool or any other scheduled outing due to our illness, so it must not have been that bad. And to give it a positive spin, our well conditioned immune systems will probably be so strong that we won't get sick in Crookston during the upcoming long weekend.

3. When I said our lives were boring, I didn't really mean it. They are routine, but the routine was broken slightly last Sunday when we dedicated Esther. That was a fun day. The church was packed with the extended families of six or seven young children whose parents were promising to train them up in the knowledge and fear of the Lord. Although we know that it is God who draws each one to himself and ultimately saves them, it is a solemn moment in which we dedicate ourselves, as parents, to the grand task of guiding our children towards the light of Christ. The children were prayed for, and the parents were prayed for that we might be able to portray the gospel and Jesus Christ as altogether lovely and desirable to our little ones. Lord, let that be so! I especially love the part where the pastor asks the rest of the church family if they will come along side the parents in this endeavor (in a few more and fancier words :). It is so affirming and reassuring to hear a hearty "we will" coming from the people you live life with throughout each week.

4. Following the dedication, we had a small gathering at our house. My parents and my sister and her family joined us for dinner and hanging out. The highlight, in my opinion, was the lovely chocolate cake with coconut-vanilla frosting.

5. Eva had a nice week of preschool. The theme this week was Thanksgiving, since we are taking next week off altogether. Her teacher on Thursday told with me a few fun things that Eva had shared during the day. First, she raised her hand in confusion and insistence regarding the pilgrims, "The Pilgrims were immigrants, right?" Well, sort of. "No, they WERE immigrants." Well, technically they were, I guess. After hearing about Abraham Lincoln declaring Thanksgiving to be a national holiday, Eva raised her hand (again), "George Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln." Thank you for sharing, Eva. The teacher told me that they then launched into an explanation of assassinating presidents, and (of course) how killing someone is a sin. During show and tell time, Eva introduced her little people doll house and the people who come with it (dressed in apparel and colors reminiscent of the late 1990's). The people, however, were introduced as "Pa, but his real name is Charles. And Ma, but her real name is Caroline. And Mary, Laura..." You get the idea. Have I mentioned that Eva is obsessed?!?!

6. We've missed Eric a lot lately. Between deer hunting weekend and many evening meetings at church, it seems like we haven't seem a lot of him. One night as he headed out the door, Hope had a total meltdown. She sat crying on the floor, probably kicking and writhing, though I don't rightly remember. Anyway, she quickly got up and, through her crying and screaming, managed to put on her shoes, socks, coat, and mittens to go out and "find Daddy". After I locked the screen door and it became apparent that she wouldn't get out, she stood at the door crying, "He's LOST, he's LOST, he's LOST..." over and over again. I said it was pitiful and sad, but my mom (who overheard the ordeal on the phone) said I should blog about it. So here I am blogging.

7. Eric was busy as a beaver today. After a big cup of coffee this morning, he suggested that we wash the windows. After washing every window in the house, inside and out, we had lunch. He also cleaned the gutters, raked the leaves, and worked on "real" work. Now he is playing poker with his buddies and it is a well deserved break!

8. I had a productive day too. After the window washing and cleaning up the backyard flower beds, Eva and I hit the mall. I purchased a shirt for her ($2.49), and a pair of cute jeans for me ($2.59), and a few other majorly discounted items. Any day is productive when you find brand new jeans for $2.59.

9. Now I must be productive and load the dishwasher, fold laundry, and make chili. Told you my life is boring. ;)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Half-Pint of Cider, All Drunk Up"

The Harvest Party, attended by our small group from church, was a big hit with the whole family this year. It was Esther's first small group event, and she slept through the majority of it- a sure sign that she LOVED the outing. For the older girls, it was nothing but an extension of their everyday pretend world. I introduce to you: the Ingalls Family (Charles, Caroline, Mary, and Laura). I suggest to you that if you care at all about fashion or at least attempting to flatter whatever shape God has blessed you with, prairie style finished with a small print pinafore is NOT the way to go. My three week postpartum shape was certainly hidden under all those layers, but most definitely not improved. Nope. Not at all.

But where did those fantastically modest frocks come from? Hope wore a dress and bonnet that was made for my sister in law when she was a child. She recently passed it on to Eva, and Eva might wear it out! Hope also sported a pinafore apron made by my grandmother for one of my young cousins and passed on to us. Her costume was completed by adorable little black pointy toe boots. Eva's and my dresses were sewn by a good friend of my family. She had four daughters, about my same age, and each summer we all attended "Old Time School" together, in a one-room school house, in our old time outfits. Our friend was gracious enough to unearth the dresses, shawls, boots, bonnets, and lunch pails that her girls had worn to school 20 years ago or more! Eric admittedly felt a little left out of the loop, as we threw his costume together (complete with nylon rope suspenders) the night of the party :(.

I don't know how Ma did it, wearing a bonnet and trying to keep track of her three little girls all the time! The radius of sight when that bonnet is snugly tied under your chin is really small! Right, Hope? Ahhh, now that's better!
And there's Half-Pint herself. Eva was in a make-believe paradise, in which all the adults called her Laura and she was allowed as many corn bread muffins as she could consume. To her, pioneer life is intoxicating, captivating, and all together perfect. I think it is the delightful combination of high adventure and simplicity intertwined with family life that make keep us coming back to those good 'ol days. To top it all off, we found out there were prizes to be won for the best costumes. A combination of pride and ecstasy slowly crept across Eva's face when they announced the winners for "best executed costume", the Ingalls Family!!! It took her half a second to realize that WE were the INGALLS family, but then she was all about the chocolates and coffee that we won! And here's Pa with his happy girls.
We weren't the only fun costumes at the party that night. Although I didn't get good pictures of everyone, there was also the Wetzel family, dressed as a small swarm of bees.And Becca L., came as an "extinct Northwest mechanic."
And Caleb and Kristie came as a cowboy and his princess. This picture was taken as Caleb tried his hardest to get Kristie to kiss him in front of other people. He succeeded! Jon H., voted least likely to ever dress up, surprised us all and came as an over-the-top tourist. He had it all: water sox, chapstik lanyard, foam visor, name tag, Hawaiian shirt, sunscreen nose, and last but not least FANNY PACK! Tonya complimented him in her turtle costume.
Joel and Erika were a pumpkin and it's guts. Mmmmm...Hope's buddy, Roman, was a cow.
And his mother was the most beautiful widow in mourning I've ever laid eyes on.
Did you want to see one last picture of little Hope in her prairie garb??? Me too!There she goes!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dear Hope

As the title of this post suggests, I am finally responding to the many prompts, "Did I miss Hope's birthday post...?" No, you didn't miss anything! In the excitement of preparing for, welcoming, and adjusting to the new baby, I have overlooked a few things in bloggy-land. Rest assured, we did NOT overlook Hope's real life birthday though! That would be downright pitiful, and we aim to avoid such things. So, without further ado, let's indulge in some birthday remembering...
Dear Hope,
It may sound cliche, but I'll say it anyway. How is it even possible that you're already TWO years old?!? We cherish you and enjoy each day with you by our side. The many changes that have taken place since your last birthday astound me! There are some obvious ones- now days you talk, walk, run, sleep all night, play in your imagination, listen to endless repetitions of your favorite books, chew your veggies, and wear undies.
...We celebrated together at Grandpa and Grandma Spears' after you and Eva spent the weekend there. Eva helped Grandma make this chocolate cake for you...

Of course, the subtle changes delight us too. We've seen your personality emerge more this year, and frankly, you've won us over. You are eternally cheerful, easily excited about all activities, and laugh off any insult. You are very emotional, and seem to have pretty good "EQ", often showing sympathy, sharing some one's joy, or simply observing the slight changes in some one's mood. Disciplining you isn't fun of course, but we find it to be very effective because of your sensitive nature. We always feel loved when you're around because of your sweet smile and soft, gentle eyes. It seems like others feel the same way too. We've been told over and over how much fun you are and how people are drawn to you. What a joy! ...Before any of us started singing, you burst into joyful, LOUD song, singing yourself "Happy Birthday" and ending with lots of clapping and laughing. You were so cute and funny that you sent Eva into fits of giggles...

You and Eva have had an especially important year, I think. A year ago, you two didn't really play together at all. As the year progressed, you started to show interest in her and joining her play. This, of course, was the beginning of some hard times. There were days when you two fought with each other tooth and nail, figuratively speaking (well, almost... :). You may be sweet, soft, and fun-loving, but you still like a piece of the action sometimes! No doubt, keeping up with your competitive and fast-paced older sister has required you to develop some backbone! However, despite all the little quarrels, these days you and Eva are completely dependent on each other and adore being together. You laugh at each other's jokes (simple and ridiculous as they are), go on all sorts of imaginary adventures together, and lovingly talk each other into eating your less favorite foods at dinner.

...After we all finally sang and you blew out your two candles...

Many nights Mom and Dad have to be rather strict with you two at bedtime since you love to "sing each other to sleep." We listen to you sing the Gospel Song, Isty Bitsy Spider, Jesus Loves Me, Trust in the Lord, and Mary Had a Little Lamb to each other, quietly sometimes and sometimes at the top of your lungs! Although this is of no real significance, each night at bedtime, regardless of the temperature, you insist on being smothered with as many blankets as we'll give you. Usually, that is four. And you keep them on until you fall asleep, then I find you kick them off, seeking some relief from the heat!

...opening some gifts with Eva's help at Grandpa and Grandma Spears' ...

We've had some hard times this year too. You weren't the healthiest kid ever, and I (mom) had to fight my worries about you. There was the infamous egg allergy reaction, which resulted in anaphalactic shock and a trip to the ER. There were also three solid months, December-February, of sickness for you. You rotated through various strains of stomach viruses, colds, fevers, and unconfirmed hepatitis A with no respite. You wouldn't even recover from one ailment before you would just transition to a new one. You and I were both exhausted after months of little sleep, lots of holding, and altogether yuckiness. Thankfully, your little immune system capitalized on that down time to (hopefully) make some major strides towards strength. The rest of the year has been basically healthy for you. Praise God!...Standing around with your friends Malachi and Hazel at the park waiting to go home. We had a lovely outdoor "friends" party planned, but the weather ended up being unseasonably windy and cold so we retreated to our house...

The summer was good for you- you loved swimming and playing in water, drawing with (and eating) sidewalk chalk, running around outside, and taking l-o-n-g afternoon naps. Some of your other favorite activities around the time of your birthday are playing dress-up as Mary Ingalls or a princess, caring for your babies, driving the blue car outside, playing "peoples" (little people), and tickling and wrestling with Daddy or Eva. You will sit and look at picture books for 45 minutes by yourself, and who knows how long you would listen to us read to you! Truthfully, you like pretty much any activity, especially active ones.

...A sampling of the crowded, but WARM, living room...
Now the trivial little details: You wear size 6.5 shoes, size 24 month clothes, and size 5 diapers to bed at night. Your favorite foods are cheese, strawberries, peanut butter, bananas, plain yogurt, avocados, noodles, baked potatoes, brown rice, and oatmeal with coconut oil and honey. If allowed, you would gobble up "goldy-fish" all day and you have a real penchant for chocolate!Your best friend is Hazel and you two raise quite a ruckus in the church nursery together. You love to play, and play rough(!), at aether's houses too. You speak really well for your age, though you still have many grammar and pronunciation errors. Some of our favorites are "I am-are" (I am), "opi meal" (oatmeal), "Eba" (Eva), and "oar port" (airport). Your favorite books are "The Napping House" and "Beauty and the Beast", your favorite toy is your little orange care-bear, and your favorite blanket is the soft, yellow one from Great Aunt Jodi.

...blowing out the candles with help from Hazel and Eva at our "friends" party...

Well little one, there's much more to say than I could ever write in a letter. We are thankful for you, blessed by your smiley face, and eager to watch you grow. Sometimes I wish I could just bottle up your squishy body and innocent giggle and keep you small forever. But then I know we would miss out on all the wonderful things God has in store for you in the next year! Happy Birthday, Hope!

With love and prayers,

Mom and Dad

Friday, October 30, 2009

4 Weeks

Baby Esther is four weeks old today. We have been having so much fun snuggling, nursing, cuddling, changing diapers, and assisting gassy baby that I practically forgot about blogging. Just kidding... but add all the above to running to preschool, entertaining flocks of visitors, folding laundry, celebrating our Halloween costumes, attempting to get into profitable family routines, and more I just haven't had time for blogging! This post will be mostly pictures of Esther, but the other girls have had some memorable moments lately too, so hopefully it won't be too long before I blog again.

"Baby E" is generally very content and relaxed, no problems with car rides for this one... But after all, she is a baby and occasionally seizes the opportunity to behave as such!
As I mentioned, we've had a constant flow of visitors, some of whom I've already documented. It was a special treat, though, for my grandparents from Colorado to fly in this week. I guess they couldn't stay away after the baby boom in our family this fall! Here is Esther with her Great-Grandma Knudtsen.
And her Great-Grandpa Knudtsen. I'm pretty sure he was happy to give her right back this time!
Now this is more typical... just chillin' out on the couch and dozing off just about anywhere you put her down. We're not sure about her eye color yet. They're black-ish right now, but every once in awhile they hint at blue. That would be fun!
Starting to get tired (again). Some fun facts about Esther at 4 weeks old:

Weighed 10 pounds, 3 ounces a few days ago - Wearing size 1-2 diapers and 0-3 month clothes - We've gotten a handful of real smiles in the past few days. Yay! I've been waiting for this all month! - Nurses approximately every 2.5-3 hours during the day, and no longer has to be woken up for every feeding - Takes about 6 naps a day lasting about an hour - Loves to be held and stare at faces - Has a gassy gut EVERY night between 9 pm and midnight. Fortunately I'm learning that if I drink a cup of chamomile tea before nursing her at night, the problem is avoided! - Sleeps on her back - Typically sleeps about 6-7 hours at night before waking to eat -Prefers to be held facing out or in the "cradle" hold - Has a few hints of baby acne, and has been bathed a scant three times in her life - Enjoys riding in the Baby Bjorn - Still has LOTS of dark shiny hair with a hint of red in it - Is very patient and relaxed with her sisters who love to hold, cuddle, kiss, and hug her all day long.

Now, an interview with her oldest sister:

Mom: Tell me about Esther.

Eva: I love her (big, happy sigh). And I think that she's nice, too. And I love her this much (holding her arms waaayyy out).

Mom: What did you tell me about how she smells?

Eva: Her head smells like breast milk and her hands smell like cheese.

Mom: Huh.

Eva: And I love her very much!

This is the end of my story, so that's all about Esther at four weeks old. We're off to ready ourselves for a Harvest party tonight. Stay tuned for pics of this dressed up family soon! Any guesses at our costumes???