A Long Overdue Post

Outside of family members, I doubt there are many people reading this long forgotten blog anymore! However, recently I was reminded of what a blessing it is to go back and read previous entries as a sort of family journal. Since I am prone to forget the mundane moments amidst everything going on, I am going to try and post a bit more frequently (it can't get much worse than a year, ha!). I even have an app now to make it easy to post from the iPad so we will see if that helps.

A little recap of our past year:

In the spring, we celebrated a wedding in the Herr family – Callie and Emma were thrilled to be flower girls!

We enjoyed a glorious summer living by our new pool. We absolutely loved it and all five of our kiddos turned into fish. If you ever need a good laugh, just ask me about what one of my children told severmy friends last summer.
In August, we started school back up. For the first time, all five kiddos are school age – 7th, 6th, 4th, 1st, and kindergarten (this might have something to do with my lack of posting). We absolutely love our homeschool group, Classical Conversations. Hailey has moved into the Challenge program and it has been a joy to see her excel and become self disciplined as she learns time management.

In September, Brian and I celebrated 14 wonderful years of marriage. I am incredibly blessed to have this guy as my husband.

In October, we took our annual OBX trip and had beautiful weather.

Later that month, Hailey turned 13! I am blessed to have this girl in my life. She is gifted in many areas, which include a servant's heart, diligence, abundant joy, and a desire to help out in any way she is able amidst a very full school load. She is a beauty, both inside and out!


In December, Sydney hit double digits! In our family, turning ten is the lucky number when you are allowed to get your ears pierced so we headed out for a mommy/daughter date on her birthday. This girl is a baby/kid magnet – she has a wonderful heart of compassion, gentleness, and love for all children and it is beautiful to see. What a joy to watch these kiddos grow up into big kids and see them use the gifts that Gid has given them.

That brings us to the current season: winter! Similarly to last year, I am surviving by enjoying my grapefruit, book reading by the fire, hot drinks, comfort food, candles, essential oils, and anything that helps to keep me warm!

I am all for the snow in the winter so the blizzard was very welcomed in our home! The kiddos spent a crazy amount of hours outside every day and thoroughly enjoyed building their massive igloo.
During the Super Bowl, we welcomed another addition to the Mellinger family! Another cousin for the kiddos and another nephew for us.

While life is full, there is nothing I would rather be doing than spending my days with these blessings …

And my evenings/weekends with this guy




Since I neglected to put up a single post this entire summer (until today – 3 Alaska posts plus this one might be a new record, ha!) I thought I would show a glimpse into what we have been up to.

While we were spending 2 weeks in Alaska, the best Mimi (and Gramps, but we all know Mimi did 99% of the work!) ever watched our precious kiddos.  She made memories, loved on our kiddos, was patient, did special things with them, and made our time away a joy for us.  It took about a month for them to stop calling me “Mimi” but I am ok with that!  We are so incredibly blessed to have parents who will watch our kiddos for such long periods of time so that we can get away.  We know not everyone has this blessing and don’t take it for granted. We are blessed and so are our kiddos! 
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Tea party at Mimi’s housetea party

Gramps and Mimi braved the rain for the local parade with the kiddos on July 4th!
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And took them to see fireworks!
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Emma picked some flowers for us while we were away (and informed us that she is getting married)!
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Before we left for Alaska, Justin’s baseball team won the championship!
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After we got back from Alaska, me and the kiddos dressed like cows for free Chick-fil-A food.
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On hot days we swim at our next door neighbor’s house.

While the big kiddos were away at the grandparents Emma was my buddy … and she also beat me at “I Spy.”
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I missed my big kid helpers, but at least Emma is cute!  We have been busy freezing zukes, making pickles from cukes, freezing green peppers, making BLT’s with garden fresh tomatoes, and eating lots of fresh food from the garden!
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I was happy to have my big kids back home!

Emma and Callie love to climb this little tree.
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Sydney takes a morning walk or bike ride across the street every morning to visit her horse friends, Cody and Angie. Our kind neighbor lets them pet the horses, help clean them, brush them, give them treats, ride them, and spend as much time as they want climbing on the fence to visit them!
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Brian’s brother, Derek, and his fiance, Joy, came for a visit to play some doubles tennis and to ask Callie and Emma to be their flower girls.  We had a blast and the little girlies are absolutely thrilled (and eagerly anticipating March)!

Emma got bike lessons from Daddy … kiddos #5 on a 2 wheeler.
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Emma turned 4!
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She got new pig pj’s from Mimi … a big deal when you are girlie #4 and new pj’s are rare!
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And last but not least, we started school!
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Although we don’t start Classical Conversations until the Monday after Labor Day, we are gradually getting back into a routine around here.  Because of that, don’t be too surprised if another couple of months goes by without a post!  I need to learn the art of short and sweet posts.  I am hoping to get up a school post showing our schoolroom, some favorite supplies, and what we are using this year for school.  However, that post will not be short and sweet so who knows when and if it will happen!

Oh Sandy and Hailey turns 10!

It has been quite the exciting week here in our neck of the woods.  Hurricane Sandy rolled in on Monday and left quite a mark in our surrounding area.  Brian was able to come home a little early from work on Monday as they sent everyone home early before the worst of the storm rolled in.  Around dinner time the wind really picked up and by 8 p.m. we were without power.  We lit candles and the kiddos all got their flashlights out to have some fun.  Thankfully, we were spared much damage compared to so many others we know (who had trees fall on their homes, finished basements flood, and are still without power).  This is one time when living in a house with small trees surrounding us was a blessing as there really aren’t any large trees that are within distance of hitting our house.  By late Monday night we were wondering if our house was going to blow over!  We did have some siding come loose (that my husband took care of by climbing up on the roof, while it wasn’t too windy of course!), and because of being without power for almost 24 hours we did get water in our basement.  However, since it isn’t finished this wasn’t too big of a deal.  We had to get rid of the carpet remnants that we had down there, but other than that there wasn’t much damage.  We really were quite blessed as we have a gas fireplace and gas stove, so thankfully we had plenty of heat and a way to cook and heat water while we were without power. 

I have never seen so many massive trees taken down by the wind!  As we drive around, the damage that so many fallen trees have done is devastating to so many.  As of today we still have many friends who are without power.  Brian was actually without power at work all week until yesterday around 10 a.m.  Anyone who knows Brian will understand how frigid he was while at work for the past few days!  He was incredibly thankful when the power came back on.  The schools in our area were out of school all week long due to power outages, and today we held church in a different location because the Christian school that we meet in is still without power! 

Some dear friends and neighbors who were without power until yesterday hung out with us this week, so that was a highlight for the kids.  They were secretly hoping that their power would never come back on so that they could see their friends every day!  I don’t have any great pictures of trees down around our house, but if you want to see some of what you would find if you drive around our area, you can check out my friend’s blog who are the same friends that were hanging out with us this week.  They had 2 huge trees fall in their yard, thankfully not on their house.  The pics that she posted will give you an idea of just how strong the winds of Sandy were when they came through our area. 

In other exciting news, we (and by we, I really mean just me!) survived two crazy busy weekends of celebrating Hailey’s 10th birthday!  The first weekend we had family in town to celebrate with us and then last weekend I took Hailey to NYC on Saturday to visit the American Girl Doll Store and to see Annie on Broadway, and on Sunday she had some of her girlfriends here for a cooking/baking party.  I waited until early Saturday morning when I woke up Hailey to tell her that I was taking her on a surprise trip.  She was completely shocked and it was a blast waking her up to surprise her.  We took a bus trip, and another part of the surprise was that my mom (“Mimi”) was joining us!   We arrived in NYC around 9:30 a.m. at the American Girl Doll Store.  Even I was surprised by how enormous this place was!  It has 3 floors and is pretty much every little girl’s dream come true!  We spent the first hour just walking around looking.  Due to some incredibly generous family and friends Hailey knew she had quite of a bit of spending money and wanted to chose wisely how to spend it.  After an hour of walking around looking, she was set on buying the new historical doll, Caroline.  She already has the doll Kit, and as a surprise I packed her along since everyone knows that you are supposed to bring your doll with you when you visit the store!  As part of her birthday present, Hailey’s cousin gave her money to get her doll Kit’s ears pierced since Hailey got her ears pierced for her 10th birthday!  So that was a fun surprise for Hailey and was quite the experience being in the “doll hair salon.”  After we finished up at the doll salon, we headed to the café upstairs for our lunch reservations.  They really think of everything at this store including giving you a portable chair that attaches to your table for your doll!  It was around that moment of walking into the incredibly feminine café and seeing tables and tables of moms/daughters/female friends that I knew Brian made the right decision in having my mom come along instead of him, ha!  The three of us girls made some wonderful memories together.  After lunch we finished up at the American Girl Doll Store and then headed outside to do some walking.  We decided to head to Times Square to give Hailey the full NYC experience!  We went into some stores such as Toys R Us, M & M, and Disney.  Hailey loved everything about our trip and thoroughly enjoyed taking it all in!  After walking around for awhile, we headed to the theater to see Annie on Broadway.  This was a wonderful show with an amazing set and we all loved it!  After the show, we stopped at Starbucks and then headed to the bus to catch our ride back home.  Although it was a long day, it was filled with adventure and excitement and I loved watching Hailey enjoy it all. 

The next day was Sunday, a day that Hailey was long anticipating!  She had been planning, decorating for, and talking about her baking/cooking party for weeks!  Since we were going to be baking/cooking at the party, I decided to use cupcake liners for all of the decorations.  We had a blast making streamers, pom-poms, wreaths, flower lights, and a large pom-pom ball with the cupcake liners!  I’m pretty sure I have never stayed up so late for so many nights in a row, but it was all worth it (thank goodness we don’t do birthday parties every year!).  Her friends party started out with having each girl decorate their personalized apron.  They used fabric markers, buttons, and stencils to beautify them and make them their own!  Next, they each made their own individual pizza for dinner.  While the pizzas were baking they make fruit and veggie kabobs to go along with their pizza.  Then after they ate their dinner they got to decorate cupcakes and assemble mini apple pies for dessert!  While the pies were baking we played a game called “What do you remember?”  I filled a tray with all different things from the kitchen, allowed the girls to look at it for one minute and then took it away.  They had to write down as many things as they could remember in 3-4 minutes.  It was fun to see the girls work together in pairs to try and remember the items … and sometimes to try and figure out what it is called!  To wind down while waiting for the parents to come, the girls watched one of the American Girl Doll movies that Hailey got for her birthday.  We were so thankful that the weather held out ok for her party on Sunday before the storm rolled in on Monday!

Here are some pics of the birthday happenings …

October 24th – Our 2 birthday girlies!

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I made the usual Ice Cream Cake Torte for dessert at the family party … can’t believe our girl is double digits!
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Hailey with her doll Kit in front of the Kit stand  
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Hailey and Kit – both with pierced ears!
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Mimi, Hailey, and Kit
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Mommy, Hailey, and Kit
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Hailey with her purchase, the new historical doll, Caroline
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M&M Store
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Mimi and Hailey in Times Square
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In the theater getting read to see Annie on Broadway!
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Hailey with her girlfriends and sister at her baking/cooking party
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All of the girls with their beautiful aprons!
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Some more of the decorations
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Up close of the Party Pom-Pom ball … here are instructions to make your own!  This was Hailey’s favorite and I would’ve made more if they didn’t take so long to make! 
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Cupcake Flower Lights … inspiration found here!  Hailey did a wonderful job making these on her own!
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Inspiration for the Cupcake Liner Pom-Poms found here!  Both Hailey and Sydney were a huge help in making these by folding the many cupcake liners while I glued them together.
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The best part about many of these decorations is that I am planning to save them for future birthday parties.  There has to be some benefit to having 4 girls, right?!  Sydney has already told me that she wants to have a baking/cooking party for her 10th in a few years, so I’m sure the decorations will be used again … of course, knowing my girls, they will find some things to add to it as they love finding ideas on pinterest with me!

To anyone who made it this far … thanks for reading along and hearing all about how we celebrated our Hailey girl turning 10!

::10:: and ::4::

Ten years ago today, we welcomed a beautiful little girlie into our lives who forever changed our family.  We are so thankful that God blessed us with Hailey Joy as our firstborn child.  As we often tell Hailey, she sets such a wonderful example for her younger siblings of what it means to serve others, be a peacemaker, put others before herself, and bless others.  I often tell Hailey that she reminds me of my mom for which I am incredibly grateful!  I love the relationship that we share with one another and look forward to the coming years.  As I reflect on this past year what I am most aware of is the numerous ways that Hailey selflessly serves our family with joy.  It has been a privilege to watch and observe the girl that Hailey is growing into and I thank God for the work He is doing in her life!

Our girlie after her ballet recital this year
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Massanutten Peak


Four years ago today we welcomed another beautiful little girlie into our lives!  Callie Beth burst into this world 15 minutes after we arrived at the hospital and has been going full speed every since!  I love how all our girlies all have such different personalities (well, at least on most days I’m thankful for this!) because it makes every day an adventure.  Callie is the kind of kid that is either completely happy or completely not-so-happy.  Thankfully, on most days we get to see the happy Callie girl.  She is incredibly full of life!  Pretty much every day involves dress-up, dancing, singing, twirling, and jumping.  She loves to be a big kid and do whatever her older siblings are doing, which probably explains why she learned to ride a 2 wheeler without training wheels at the young age of 3 1/2!  It has been neat to see her develop different relationships and friendships with each sibling.  Over this past year, we have been encouraged to see Callie grow in self-control, patience, and kindness.  We love her spunk and are so thankful that God chose to bless us with her!   

Massanutten Peak



Happy 10th Birthday, Hailey and Happy 4th Birthday, Callie – we are soooo thankful that you are both a part of our family and we love you both!


In some ways, it is hard to believe that Emma has been a part of our family for 2 years.  In other ways, I can’t remember what our family was like before she was here!  Emma brings so much love into our family and has been such a sweet addition.  She is constantly trying to keep up with the big kids and will often walk around the house saying (or rather, yelling), “guyyyys, guyyyyys” until someone answers her.  She adores all of her big sisters and brother and is adamant about giving every single one of them a hug and kiss before nap and bedtime.  She knows the girls by name, but for some reason chooses to call Justin, “dad” which cracks us all up.  I guess his name is a little hard for her to say.  Emma absolutely adores her daddy right now and asks where he is at least 10 times throughout the day even though my answer is always the same (“at work”).  Her response is always the same too – “ohhhhh.  Come home?”    She is a child who knows what she wants and when she wants it and isn’t afraid to tell you so.  Our little girlie loves to snuggle, sing, dance, and be outside.  We are so thankful that God brought her into our family!

Breakfast: Pancakes, banana and milk!   

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Dessert:  Chocolate and vanilla cupcakes and homemade vanilla bean ice cream!
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Happy 2nd Birthday, Emma Jane!