Saturday, December 31, 2011

Play Days

It's been a quiet week around here- going nowhere and lots of playing with new stuff. We are resting up for the new year, which looks to be somewhat busier than the norm, which is saying something. But I don't want to think about that 'til tomorrow.

We had a lot of fun picking out Christmas gifts for the boys this year. A few were duds, like the remote control car that died almost instantly and had to be taken back, and the cheap dollar store toys the boys 'bought' for each other and broke within hours. But mom and I picked out this winner months ago when she was in town, and I have been hiding it ever since.

The boys actually love playing with doll houses, but I couldn't find any that weren't pink and frilly. What could be more manly than a rocket doll house with elevator included to transport various astronauts and aliens? And I love that all the boys love playing with it- even the baby.

I also got the boys some little chests with their initials on them, filled to the brim with art supplies. I didn't realize Etienne was really interested in art, but he has hardly stopped coloring since.

The weird thing is, he always colors inside the lines. It's a little unnerving for a four year old.

My favorite gift we got for the boys was the k'nex roller coaster. I enjoyed k'nex when I was a kid, and we have decided to go the k'nex route, rather than legos for our boys (at least at this juncture.) I had been looking for a cool set for a while, and Craigslist had a big roller coaster for a steal, but it was already sold by the time I asked. So I got another one at Walmart- not so impressive, but not too expensive. The day I brought it home, the lady from Craigslist called and told me the first buyer had fallen through and did I still want the bigger roller coaster. I decided to go for it, and hid the other one in the car to take back. Of course I forgot about it, and the kids found it a few days later. They brought it in, raising it high in the air and absolutely ecstatic. It was then my painful duty to tell them we had to take it back. Amidst the tears and wails, I tried to explain to them that they needed to trust that mommy knew best, and they wouldn't be sorry. I think they doubted me right up to Christmas morning. The coaster from Walmart had 400 pieces, the one I got had 2500. And Steve and I had a blast putting it together with them. Granted, it took a couple of days, and it is taking up almost the entire bedroom, but it was worth it. And it actually works!

Steve and I decided not to get each other much this year, but he did buy me these wonderful new shoes.

I just love the cuffs with the buttons!

And my mom got Steve this indoor lemon tree. We hope it will actually produce some fruit, but if not, it's still a lovely little tree and smells great.

We got the pot at the local nursery for five bucks! Couldn't have found a more appropriate one, eh?

So all in all, we had a very Merry Christmas. We are looking forward to 2012, and to putting our poor wilting Christmas tree out of its misery.

Oh, and Santa also delivered a few teeth. Thank You!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Eve

This year was the first we have ever spent without going home to see my folks and sisters. It was difficult for me in a lot ways, since we have no family in town. I am used to a huge family affair, but we made the best of it and had a sweet time. It was definitely the most laid back Christmas we have ever had, and I sure didn't miss the jetlag. These are some shots from Christmas eve and early Christmas morning. I didn't get a lot of shots of the boys opening gifts after church, since I was trying to rein in the chaos most of the time, but I will try and post some of their gifts at a later date. Hope you all had a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!!!

From Steve, Nicky and a wreath of boys.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A surplus of kisses

I bought a huge bag of Hershey's kisses from Costco a few weeks ago, and have been thinking of ways to get rid of them ever since.

They are a pretty versatile little chocolate drop, either on top of a peanut butter cookie, inside of a walnut cookie, or just melted in a blob with nuts. And the kids love unwrapping and sticking them on things, so they are an easy way to get kids involved without all the rolling, cutting out, and frosting that sugar cookies entail. Believe it or not, every one of these treats has already been given away, and I need to make more. I haven't even eaten one!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Star of the Show???

Last night, my boys participated in their first ever church Christmas program. They were not looking forward to it. I guess they don't have a lot of my genes, because the thought of standing in front of all those people and singing seemed to terrify them. They all assured me over and over again that they would go up front if they had to, but they wouldn't be singing. That is why this video of Etienne surprised me so much. I didn't have a good view of James and Sebastien- you will see them occasionally behind their teacher, but Etienne was front and center in more ways than one. I am not sure if he was nervous, trying to grab all the attention, or simply in his own little world. Of one thing I am sure. This kid marches to the beat of his own drum, literally.

Untitled from nicole lewin on Vimeo.

Friday, December 9, 2011

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth

Sorry for the graphic nature of these photos, but they nicely convey the misery that's been going on around here for the last few weeks.

I am hoping Santa will deliver a little earlier than the twenty-fifth.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Just follow the trail....

and let satsuma season begin!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stay-at-home missionary

My blog is not usually a place where I get preachy, but from time to time, God impresses on me something that I like to share.
I a mom of four little boys, and wife to a husband who is technically unemployed (although there has been scarcely a day since he lost his job that God has not provided work for him to do somewhere).

As thankful as I am for my current place in life, it can be stressful! I am realizing as I get older just how much stress can affect my physical well-being if I let it- tension headaches, achy muscles and generally feeling blah. It also doesn't help my relationship with my kids when I am uptight all the time. These past few weeks I feel like I have been blaming my kids for my neck aches and grumpiness.

To fix this problem, I have been trying to get up early enough to have some quiet time, a time to do a little exercise and stretching so I can face the hungry hordes in a more relaxed frame of mind. But in a small house, it is difficult to get up early without waking everyone in the process. I was so determined this morning to do my exercise, drink my coffee, read my Bible in peace and quiet that when the kids all came cheerfully tumbling out of bed right when I had taken a seat, an hour ahead of normal time, I was not a happy camper. I told them in a none too friendly voice that if they were going to be awake, they couldn't ask for breakfast, they couldn't make a peep, and they had to sit still on the couch for half an hour while I did my yoga. You can guess how well that went. By the end of my "relax" time, I was more keyed up than ever. I kept asking God why, when it was surely a good thing to seek quiet time in the morning, he was not letting me have it.

But as so often happens, I stumbled across this little blurb while I grabbed a minute to read some Elisabeth Elliot. She had found this passage written many years ago by a missionary, and at first I was going to pass over it, thinking it didn't apply to me since I wasn't on the mission field, but thankfully I remembered in time that I most certainly am on a mission field. It read,

"I am finding out that it is a mistake to plan to get through a certain amount of work in a certain time. It almost always ends in disappointment and frustration, besides not being the right way to go about it. It makes one impatient of interruptions and delay. Just as you are beginning, someone comes along to sit with you and have a chat! You might think it hardly possible to be impatient and put out where there is such an opportunity for spreading God's love, but it is. It may be just at mealtime, or you are writing a letter to catch the mail, or you were just going out for some much needed exercise. Surely good things in themselves. But better still, spreading the gospel through your actions, and I think it is well to cultivate an attitude of mind which will enable one to welcome the intruder from the heart at any time. "No admittance except on business" scarcely shows a true missionary spirit."

There is nothing so humbling as realizing you are going about something the totally wrong way, but nothing so encouraging as realizing that God shows these things to you just when you need them. I hope this is a help to anyone out there, struggling on their own private mission field.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Indulge me....

...whilst I share some more James papers.
Sorry, I just find them a bit hilarious.

I had a conference with his teacher the other day, just to see how he was doing, and she showed me the first page of his in-class journal.

And the lists he makes, well, as I have said before, he is not very subtle. His teacher also noted that he is a boy who tells it like it is- he knows what he wants and isn't afraid to say it. For instance, Pre-Halloween, he left this list for me in a place where he knew I couldn't miss it.

And as soon as Halloween was over, I discovered this one on my pillow.

I have yet to figure out how to comply with his snow request.

And then I found this random paper on the floor.

One of his personal to do lists, I guess. I particularly like his first and second items- "Buy money" and "Get more". I also think it charming that he put "get a lollipop" next to "buy an i-pod" as seemingly equal goals. Ahh, childhood. At what age do we give up the dreams of traveling in a rocket, or having a "theater ride." ???

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Just Etienne

I was toying around with our new camera the other day. I am no photographer, so I am always trying to figure out a way to capture the kid's activities without blurry results. I have yet to figure it out, but I had fun taking these still shots. I ended up liking them better in black and white. I was kind of hidden behind the bedroom door while they watched one of their favorite movies, which turned out to be an ideal time to catch them sitting still! Do you ever just sit and watch your kids? It can be pretty entertaining sometimes.
I also realized that I haven't blogged much about my second born lately, so here are some pics of just him that will tell you better than words about his little personality.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Happenings

I just got all my sugar-rushed children to sleep and thought I would post some pictures of the last few days of fall merrymaking.
This is the first year the kids have really gotten into the spirit of things, pestering me about pumpkin carving and worrying about the all important costume choice. I put the pumpkin purchase off way too late this year. I thought I would try to get some over the weekend- no biggy right? It was pouring buckets on Friday and I stopped at no fewer than six stores without any success. I couldn't find a pumpkin in this town. I found a few pathetic specimens at the local hardware store and they were charging 15 bucks per squash! At last, sopping wet and bedraggled, I found what seemed to be the last pumpkin in the city at the local Food Lion. And it only cost me 5$. The boys were a bit disappointed not to have one apiece, but we had fun carving it (or at least daddy did).

He decided on a pretty ambitious smile, with lots of little teeth. Eventually he lost patience with the carving knife and got out the drill.

Maybe he should have been a dentist, because the teeth turned out great!

The costume choice was unanimous this year. Pirates!

I hope they choose this every year because it is a super simple costume. A hankie, some boots, one of mommy's blouses and a belt just about does the trick. I always have this aversion to purchasing ready made costumes. Probably because my mom always insisted we find ours around the house. And some of the costumes we came up with when we were little were pretty creative. I like to think of it as a challenge. However, I did purchase James's hat at the dollar store. It was in the clearance bin, and I couldn't pass it up. I am sure it will get a ton of use year round.
He kept asking me if we had a peg leg around the house somewhere, but I told him that if we did, he would have to cut off his leg in order to wear it. That stopped the pestering. However, tonight he noticed a man in the crowd of trick or treaters sporting the same classy dollar store captains hat as his. When we got closer I realized he was an amputee with a real (albeit metal) 'peg leg'. I was about to point this out to James, but he had already spotted it and was horrified. He turned to me with a "Mom, he really did it mom! He cut it off!" He was totally in awe of a guy who would go that far for a costume.

It was so funny to watch as the boys had their first trick or treat outing. Unfortunately Steve couldn't make it, but we went with some dear old friends and had an evening full of trying to herd two strollers and a bunch of hyper monkeys up and down the streets.

But the kids had a blast and my boys couldn't believe that people would just give you candy for the asking. Sebastien hung back a lot at first- he was really spooked by some of the deco, but he overcame it pretty quickly when he realized that a bucket full of candy was at stake.

This little lion just went along for the ride.

After we got home, the boys had a small candy sorting pow-wow at the kitchen table, whispering all the while. When I came over to hustle them into their jammies, I found this. It was totally unprompted by me, and I thought it was about the sweetest thing I had seen in a while. (no pun intended)

(it reads- "the Candy that lays on the tabel is for DaDDy")

Hope you all had a fun evening!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Just a lovely day

Not too much to write about today. I thought I would post some pictures of the fall church picnic we attended yesterday. That perfect weather I was talking about a few weeks back has decided to stick around for awhile, and we are loving just sitting around, enjoying the breeze.

I don't usually let my kids have kool-aid, but I yielded yesterday. They were all sporting those lovely red moustaches the rest of the day.

They had a great old-school playground with see-saws and even one of those merry-go-rounds that seem to be illegal in most states now.

Steve even got in a few rounds of this game. I have no idea what it is called, but he got pretty good at it by the end of the day.

And it is official. This boy looks like his daddy. (minus the facial hair)

Happy Fall everyone!