Sunday, February 07, 2016

1 Year for Genesis Grace

Today we celebrated one year of holding Genesis Grace in our arms. It is the one-year anniversary of her birth.

I wanted to celebrate on Thursday, but our schedule was chaotic. On top of that, she has been having tummy troubles and I didn't want to introduce cake. Since Mercy and Obi both started having tummy troubles after they turned a year old, it could be a similar phase that Genna is entering. I also had mastitis a couple weeks ago and just finished the since they are excreted in breastmilk and Genna is still nursing, the antibiotics could have taken a toll on her gut. She could have had a virus, but no one else in the house even hinted of being sick, so I kind of ruled it out. We have been doing probiotics and some good yogurt. Today was the first day that she seems to be semi-normal. I hope we can avoid "toddler diarrhea" and the excitement that caused for Obi and Mercy.

Alright, now that that's out of the way, let's get down to business. There are a lot of pictures to share!

 This is the cute thing she does with her ears. She has been doing this for a few months now. I always say, "What? I can't hear you!" 

She also shakes her head back and forth ("no") and she tries to shake it up and down ("yes"). It's actually kind of hard to maneuver. She giggles hysterically.  She also can say, "No!" Sometimes she will "argue" with the kids where they are saying, "Yes!" and she shouts, "No!" in reply.

Some other things Genna can say are "Momma" (which means me, obviously), "Dada" (for everyone and everything else), and "uh-oh" (which is the cutest ever). Otherwise, she just babbles, "Na-na, baba." They don't mean anything yet. The kids are all competing to see whose name she will say first. She LOVES if someone will hold her up to look at the pictures on the wall and name all the people in our family.

 {Oh! I love her!}

 Genna likes to try to feed herself. She is now willing to sit in the high chair, so she can be like everyone else at the table. The urge to climb out of the chair and across the table is strong, though. Ugh. 

Genna must have a spoon or fork just like her siblings. She can sometimes get food into her mouth. I'm surprised that she doesn't make more of a mess. She rarely dumps her plate (but she dumped her cake at first today!).

Genna is liking eating better now, but she still doesn't eat a ton. She may eat half a jar of meat and a third to a half a jar of a fruit or veggie. She nurses about every 2 hours still, even through the night.

Genna has learned how to go backwards to get down off the couch or a chair and down the stairs. I don't feel quite so jumpy when she climbs up on things now or if someone leaves the gate at the top of the stairs open. She can go down the stairs really well, but she has tripped and rolled down a few of them too. One of her favorite things to do is to sit on the top step and kick her feet. She's a little thrill seeker!!

Well, I say that she's a thrill seeker, but walking does scare her mightily. She has been so cautious. But she is getting more and more brave. She has been taking more steps on her own. She can squat down, pick up a toy, and stand back up without holding on to anything. It is obvious at times that she chooses her route carefully so that she can walk holding on to things (a couch, chairs, etc), not necessarily the shortest route. And if she has to let go and take a step to get from one hand-hold to another, she'll do it. She LOVES when the kids clap for her. She hates when someone forces her to walk. I think that early on there were some siblings who grabbed on to her hands and "forced" her to walk, and she disliked that so much, she has been holding a grudge ever since. Now her desire to be mobile and fast is finally over-taking there's the thrill of walking into the middle of the room. I love that she's taking her sweet time time to practice and get better at it. No need to be a show-off!

Genna has 7 teeth. 4 are on top, and 3 are on bottom. Usually my kids get their teeth in pairs, so I'm wondering where that #8 is and what the hold-up is. Her gums are getting nice and fat, so I think we'll see molars soon.

Her hair is a dark golden color. It is so smooth. But she doesn't have a lot of it! 

And while we're on this theme, her eyes are still a crystal-clear blue.

 {"Like, are you kidding me? Enough already!!" or maybe she is saying, "What do you mean this is all the cake I get?"} 
This funny little slouch is a new one she's been doing lately. LOL And actually she was really "done" at this point. She normally takes a nap in the morning, and today we went to church so she missed her morning nap. So then she usually falls asleep on the way home from church. For some reason today she didn't. We kept her up and did cake before we even had lunch. The big kids loved it. Genna was way too over-tired. 

Speaking of being tired and sleeping...Genna takes a couple naps a day still. Usually one in the mornings before lunch and then one later in the day around 6 or 7pm. She goes to bed around 9 pm, and wakes up frequently throughout the night. As soon as she turned a year old, I converted her crib to a toddler bed and pushed it up against my bed. (I couldn't do it sooner because of daycare rules). I love this arrangement now. I slip her back into her bed as often as I can throughout the night. I hope she gets used to being on her own and wakes up less often, especially since she always naps in her crib alone.

 We won't make it to the doctor until March, so I wanted to know approximately how much she weighs. So according to our scale at home, she is about 21 lbs 10 oz. She is approximately 29 inches long. She hasn't gained a whole ton of weight since November. I was kind of hoping for more. 

She's still got quite the belly, though! 

Genna has a bit of eczema. It started with a small patch on her butt back in November, but now it is all over her trunk and her arms. I noticed today that it's even on her scalp. It's not majorly red and doesn't appear to be a huge problem, but it does itch and she scratches it, especially at night. Only one spot broke open--a spot on her ear--and it is healing nicely. I've been using Aquaphor and Vanicream. I don't use soap unless absolutely necessary (diaper changes for example). I hope it's just winter weather and that it will improve in the spring. Mercy is the opposite--her eczema is bad in the spring and summer, but clears up in the fall and winter. She doesn't have a spot on her at the moment!

Wow, it has been an amazing year! I'm still learning new things about my kids all the time. I feel so blessed, even in the craziness and hard work of it all.

Monday, February 01, 2016


Some kids can, some kids can't. Ha!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Mercy Me

 Oh this child! The duplicate of my oldest sister. I text my sister often and refer to Mercy as her little "mini-me." One day soon I'm going to go dig out some pictures of my sister and compare the two.

She loved the baby Jesus doll we had and plopped herself right down in the manger.

She has some serious bed hair! It is hard to get the tangles out, and I've tried several different products. Even when I comb it in the morning, by the end of the day it is usually in knots again.
She loves to line up things...and put things back in their places.
One day she drew a picture on paper, then continued to draw off the paper as well...

Genna loves to play on the couch. If we take the cushions off, she can get up and down by herself. Mercy lined all her baby dolls up on the couch, and Genna thought it was open season. Mercy tried to keep Genna away...
...when she realized that she couldn't keep Genna from grabbing the dolls, Mercy gathered them all up into her arms.
I insisted that she share with her sister, so Mercy tossed her one of the smallest dolls. It was hilarious. Genna was not impressed. Selfishness is contagious!

If you are just checking in for the first time (today...or in the past couple weeks), I just finished writing 6 new blog posts. This was the 6th one. So keep reading to see what all you missed!


Our homeschool year is nearly halfway through. We are doing really well in some areas and lackluster in others. That's normal, right?

 We have a few kids who enjoy spelling. This year Josh was the bravest one of all and competed in the homeschool spelling bee. We didn't do a ton of practicing. We did watch a documentary that gave us a peek into the world of championship spellers. Josh did most of his practicing using In the bee, he made it to round 4. He was so upset when he got the word "median" wrong. He showed me that he spelled it correctly on his scratch paper, but he did, in fact, spell it wrong out loud. By round 5 the words were getting very difficult and by round 7 there was a clear winner. I don't know if he will want to try again next year, but I hope he will! He was the youngest person there this year. I'm sure he will get even better if he tries.

 Mostly I just took these pictures while I was playing around with my camera. I don't even remember what I was trying to do. :)

Malachi does good with all of his schoolwork. He is working hard on learning to write this year using IEW's Ancient History based writing lessons (alongside Zeke and Josh). I know that the long hours I put in now at his side helping him complete writing assignments will reap big rewards later. He is nowhere near an independent writer. I use a lot of prompts and suggestions and sometimes write for him. Model, model, model. It will come. By 6th grade, he will be working independently.

 Josh loves spelling and writing. Math? Not as much. But he does good at it, too. Some days Josh can complete his work efficiently and without much guidance. Other days he needs to be pushed.

 Tirzah is doing well in school, but I lack consistency with completing her checklist each day. If I could choose only one area to improve (in our homeschool) it would be this one--that I could spend more time with Tirzah each day. Sigh...

 Genna impresses us all with her pencil-holding abilities. Unfortunately, our walls bear some new marks thanks to her.

Not pictured:
Zeke is really good at math. He is also good at writing, although it depends on the day. I've read some of his work and almost accused him of plagiarism. It is surprisingly good. Other assignments it seems like he writes just the bare minimum. That's ok...the minimum gets raised nearly every week. :) Zeke doesn't like to practice typing, but he would rather type his work than write it. He isn't good at spelling, so writing in a word processor is a life-saver for him. It finds almost all his misspelled words!

Caleb hides in his room and works all day on his school, 7 days a week. No, I'm not a slave driver. He says his work takes that long to do. He has turned into such a teenager! I make up reasons to pop into his room on a regular basis. I feel like it's my duty as his mother. When I want to go over the problems he has missed on the latest math test (rare), he rolls his eyes at me. I insist that it is the highlight of my day, and it's ok to "let" me teach math once in a while. He is exasperated. :)

Eden is enrolled in her second semester at SCTCC. She tells me frequently that she wants to go back to being little when all she had to worry about was playing with barbies. Me too some days.

On that note...yes, when I look at the big picture of what all I'm doing and how much longer I will need to do it for, I am completely and utterly overwhelmed. When I'm having a bad day, it's enough to physically knock me down and keep me there. So I don't look. Not too often anyway. I try to stay focused on just what is in front of me. I borrowed that from one of Donita K. Paul's books recently, and I'm clinging to it.

Dentist Visits

 The kids love going to the dentist! We love getting to see Lori. Everyone had good reports and no one needed any additional work done this time. Mercy had her teeth cleaned for the first time. I did a bit of coaching in the days/weeks ahead of time, and she also got to sit and watch some of her siblings do it. Also, she can hardly resist getting a turn to play on the Kindle, so I used that as a bribe.

A few days after going to the dentist I caught her sitting quietly reading this book to herself. As soon as she knew I was taking pictures of her, she began telling me all about going to the dentist. Most of it I had no idea what she was saying, but she babbled on and on about opening her mouth and counting teeth. It was adorable!

This past week Micah had his wisdom teeth removed. I was glad I could be there with him. When he first woke up from anesthesia he was pretty loud and talkative. He kept his eyes closed and told me he was going to "fast" from seeing. Haha. He was in pain for a couple days. Today he still has some bruising and swelling, but things look pretty good inside his mouth and it sounds like he is eating normally. Exciting times!

Pit Crew

One morning a couple weeks ago Eden left for school but then called home just a few minutes later describing car trouble. She said the car was shaking and smelled really bad. Since she was so close to home, I suggested she come back home and take the van to school. As soon as she hopped out of the car at home, she knew exactly what was wrong--she had a flat tire. It was mutilated. A couple days later when Mitch had time, he and the boys changed the tire. He drove the car and had it inspected. All was fine. They make a good pit crew!

 She drove home on the rim!

It was sooooo cold outside!

Love from Germany

We love our German exchange students Patrick and Kathi so much. I am still amazed to reflect on that time of our lives and how blessed we were to have them. We got a beautiful letter from Kathi, updating us on all that she has been doing. Patrick's family sent us some packages with fun and special gifts. They added to our nativity, which has quickly become my favorite Christmas decoration. Their gifts are always so thoughtful and so appreciated.

 There were two boxes that arrived about a week apart. The top one apparently went to Canada. Is that the long way around or the short way around? :)


I replaced all our "meaningless" coffee mugs with our special new mugs from Germany. The kids have already enjoyed a few rounds of hot chocolate in their mugs.

Every year we say how much we hope to visit Germany soon and see Patrick and Kathi and their families. Mitch and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary in January 2017, and we are beginning to give our dream a real foundation. For years I have thought about how we could make the 20th a "big" celebration. We would love to travel to Ukraine to visit our sister church, as well as to Germany. I hope so much that this will happen for real!