>An Update of Sorts

>Lots has been going on around here … we had a great time celebrating Thanksgiving with my family (Brian’s family was away in the OBX so we didn’t see them over the holiday weekend this year). It’s always a blast getting together … although it can be a bit chaotic at times having 7 kiddos ages 6 and under (with #8 on the way since my brother and his wife are expecting their 4th in July!). My other big brother and his wife graciously open their home to host us all.

Hailey has slowly been getting back into the routine of things with school. She’s had lots of opportunities to read since that’s something she can do while I’m feeding Callie, or something she can do with Justin and Sydney. She still prefers math and writing … but the more she realizes she can read the more excited she is to read different books. She also has her first loose tooth which she is very excited about. Although it has made eating certain foods tough for her (no doubt this will only increase as she looses all of her front teeth!). She also continues to be a huge help to me … making the other little ones breakfast, sweeping, dusting, unloading the dishwasher, folding wash, putting wash away, holding the baby … pretty much anything that serves me. Hailey is quick to ask what she can do to help out and I love her servants heart.

Justin is a great brother to all of his sisters … he adores Callie and is often giving her hugs and kisses. He loves playing with Hailey during the afternoon when the little girls are napping, but he has also grown in entertaining Sydney for me while I am doing school with Hailey in the morning. Their favorite thing to do right now is to build a house and train with legos or to play kitchen together. It’s sweet hearing them talk to each other and become good little buddies. He has also grown much in the recent months at being more independent and helpful around the house … he is known for being lazy at times when it comes to getting dressed, making his bed, etc. … but recently he has been accomplishing his chores on his own! He also loves to help unload the dishwasher and vacuum the floors for me.

He also says some pretty funny things these days …
~He is very intrigued when Callie eats and often asks why she has to eat from both sides of my belly! A couple weeks ago he asked me if he ate from my belly when he was a baby like Callie. I told him yes, … to which he responded, “But I don’t remember eating from your belly.”
~The other day he asked me why Daddy doesn’t live with us. A little confused, I told him that Daddy does live with us. Then he said … “I know he kinda lives with us, but I want him to live with us all the time, even during the day!” Hailey then informed him that in order to have a house to live in, clothes to wear and food to eat Daddy needs to work during the day and we need to be thankful that Daddy has a job to provide for us!
~I overheard him and Hailey having a conversation about getting married recently … Hailey kept trying to explain to Justin why he couldn’t marry her. Eventually, after asking more than a few times and Hailey’s answers not satisfying him (just because that’s the way it is and because I’m your sister weren’t cutting it for him) … eventually Hailey said, “Justin, you just can’t marry me. That’s just how God made it.” Then Justin said “How come God made it that way?” At that point Hailey was done trying to answer his questions and said “oh, nevermind!”

Sydney keeps me on my toes these days … although thankfully she has taken a break from drawing on anything and everything. Maybe she finally agrees that pencils, pens, crayons and markers are for paper only … we can hope anyway. She walks around the house singing all the time these days which is so sweet. She also talks about turning 3 soon a lot since Hailey and Justin remind her almost every day that she is going to be 3 soon. We still haven’t made much progress in convincing her that it would be fun to wear underwear instead of diapers, but we’re hoping that maybe after she turns 3 she’ll change her mind!

And Callie girl is doing great … she smiles at us all of the time, especially when talked to. She definitely likes attention and doesn’t like to be left alone in a quiet room (probably because it is a rare occasion for her to be alone in a quiet room!). For about the past week she’s been going between 7 1/2 – 8 hours at night for us which has been a huge blessing. Getting 7 straight hours of sleep is great and enables me to have lots of energy during the day, and often go without a nap. She also seems to thoroughly enjoy not pooping for 2-5 days at a time, and then go crazy and have 4 blowouts in one day. Thankfully, I’m pretty much home all of the time!

Some other things we’ve been up to include family nights of decorating a gingerbread train (we still have a house to do!) and playing games, being entertained while the kiddos put on “shows” for us, enjoying visits from Mimi and Grandma (and me loving being able to run errands during the day without any kids!) and getting our Christmas tree. Since many of those things mentioned happened while I was feeding the baby I don’t have pics to show for most of them … however, I do have some pics from our Christmas tree outing …

We headed to the local tree farm to cut down our tree even though it was freezing cold. Thankfully it wasn’t very windy, so with warm jackets, mittens and hats the kiddos were all nice and warm (the free hot chocolate and apple cider helps too after we get back from the field!). And in case you’re wondering where me and Callie are in the pics … well, I was the one taking the pics, and Callie was attached to me in the sleepy wrap (where she slept the entire time all nice and cozy warm!).

The search for the perfect tree …
We found it … Daddy cutting the tree down …
Our tree!

Buddy boy …

I’m still hoping to get a family pic of all 6 of us for our Christmas card … however, you should all probably lower your expectations now, because the chances of it actually turning out aren’t that great! But that’s life and reality … and I figure everyone would prefer to receive a not so great picture instead of no picture at all!

I have some yummy recipes to post … but that will have to wait for another day!

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>Ice Cream and Tomatoes

>Saturday evening after dinner Brian decided to take me and the kiddos to Dairy Queen. He told the kiddos we were going somewhere … so they loaded up into the van. As we were driving to DQ, Hailey started asking questions about where we were going … so Brian decided to give her some hints. Here’s how the conversation went …
Daddy: We’re going somewhere that has something good.
Hailey: Something to eat?
Daddy: Yup, what do you really like to eat?
Hailey: Ice cream!
Daddy: Maybe … can you think of anything else that we might be going to get?
Hailey: Tomatoes! (with the same amount of enthusiasm)

That’s our girl … or pretty much all of our kiddos for that matter. They love tomatoes!

In other exciting news around here we got everything planted in our garden over the holiday weekend! Dad and Mom Herr, along with Derek (Brian’s brother) came yesterday to help out. We weren’t sure what all we were going to get in after the load of rain we got in the previous two weeks … but they used their gardening skills to get creative and now everything is planted! We planted tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, zuccini, green beans, and herbs (lots of basil!). We were so thankful for the beautiful weather that we had all weekend.

>Daddy … A.K.A. Mr. Fix It

>Yesterday one of the braids fell off of Hailey’s Raggedy Ann doll. Immediately (after a few tears) she came out to me and said “Mommy, can we put this on the counter in the kitchen so that Daddy sees it when he comes home from work and remembers to take it with him tomorrow to fix it?” Although it is rather normal for her to assume Daddy fixes everything at work (he has a track record of taking things to work to fix them for the kiddos!) … I’m not sure what it says about her perception of my sewing skills! This also reminded me of something that happened while the kiddos were staying at Gramps and Mimi’s while we were on our cruise …

Hailey had a little pajama doll bag that my Mom had given her while staying there and one day while a strap came off. She found my Mom right away and said, “Well, maybe Gramps can take it to work.” My Mom was perplexed and asked her why he would do that. To which Hailey replied, “Well, when anything breaks, Daddy always takes them to work and fixes them!” Anyone who knows MY DAD understands why this had Brian and I practically in tears laughing so hard. Let’s just say when it comes to being Mr. Fix It I didn’t marry someone like my Dad. It’s ok though, Dad … I still love you!

>Sleepless Nights and Quotable Kiddos

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I’m sure everyone would rather see pics from our cruise … but well, I just haven’t had the time to go through them all and organize them to put them up yet (this one above of another sunset will have to do for now)!

Settling back into life at home has taken some time as Sydney decided that getting out of bed at all hours during the night was her new favorite thing to do last week (she seemed to think that she needed kisses from Mimi at 3 a.m. … I suppose she was going through withdrawal!). After a few nights of being up with her for 2-3 hours during the night graciously and patiently dealing with her, I was completely exhausted last week and barely able to stay on top of my homemaker responsibilities. And since posting on this blog isn’t exactly on the top of my priority list, you are going to have to wait a bit longer for those pics from the cruise.

And in case anyone is wondering how Sydney is doing … let me just say that whoever invented those doorknob safety covers is a genius. She can no longer open her door and wander over to our room during the night, and after laying by her door a couple of nights calling for us, she seems to have given up on the idea of getting out of bed (and hey, at least if she does get up during the night she is stuck in her room!). It has been a blessing to be able to sleep through the night again!

In the meantime, I thought I’d give you a recent Justin quote from when we were driving in the van just the other day. He and Hailey were talking about traffic lights …
Hailey to Justin … “red means stop, green means go, and orange (as they call the yellow light) means slow down.”
Justin to Hailey … “and PURPLE means go super fast”
Not sure where he came up with that one, but it gave us a good laugh.

>Pretzel Kisses

>Today the kiddos helped me make these fun snacks to take to our meeting tonight since I’m bringing snack …

Pretzel Kisses
~1 bag of small pretzels (waffle/checkerboard work well)
~2 bags of milk choc. hershey kisses (hugs or dark choc. work too)
*We made some with rolos today!
~M&M’s
~Little helpers to unwrap the kisses
(I have a couple to lend out for a day!)

~Place sheet of wax/parchment paper on 2 cookie sheets.
~Lay pretzels in single layer
~Top with kisses and bake at 175* for about 5-6 min.
(hugs melt quicker) until they are very soft but not melted.
~Remove from oven and place M&M’s on top, then press down.
~Place cookie sheet in freezer (or fridge)
for 10-15 min. to harden chocolate.

A simple and yummy snack that even the kiddos can help with!

My great little helpers working hard …

The pretzels all ready to be topped with a kiss!
Heading into the oven to soften …
Voila! The finished Pretzel Kisses!