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

 

Family Photo Shoot

My dear sister-in-law (thanks again, Krista!) once again took some amazing pics for us this year.  We had a lovely fall day that was perfect for being outside!  Here are some of my favorites:

These 5 are such a blessing to our family.
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Emma – 3 years old
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Callie – 4 1/2 years old (5 this month!)
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Sydney – 7 1/2 years old
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Justin – 9 1/2 years old
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Hailey – 10 1/2 years old (11 this month!)
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The girlies
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A fun family shot.
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The love of my life.
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Me and my girls.
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My favorite guys.
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Me and my boy.
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My love with our girls.
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12 years of marriage.
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Daddy and the kiddos.
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Me and my 5.
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Love these shots of Brian and Emma.
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It is rough being the baby of the family.
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Of course we also have many more different family poses, but since I don’t know which one I’m using on our card this year I am saving those!

Crafty Creations

Thanks to pinterest there is no shortage of ideas for Easter crafts (or any crafts for that matter)!  Since my kiddos are super crafty kiddos and making messy crafts is pretty much their favorite thing to do, I decided to spend a day this week having a craft day.  They were absolutely thrilled when they discovered my plan.  I’m pretty sure that in my head the plan didn’t involve quite such a mess and everything came together a little easier, but that isn’t reality.    Reality includes messes!  And I love messes!  Ok, so that isn’t entirely true, but when you have 5 kids (or probably 2), I’m pretty sure that God goes to work on all idols involving desires to have a clean, organized, mess-free home.  Thankfully, I am finally learning to embrace the mess and just enjoy making memories.  However, for the record, I am not planning to embrace messes that involve nail polish any time in the foreseeable future!  Back to our crafty day … here is what we created today:
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We started out with dyeing eggs.  Our eggs are beautiful and vibrant jewel-toned colors since we used brown eggs.  And for the record I am a fan of baking eggs to make hard-boiled eggs.  Another tip that I found on pinterest, which is something I had no idea you could even do.  It was so easy to preheat the oven to 325* and then bake them for 30 minutes before soaking them in ice water. 

After we finished up with the eggs, we moved onto our faux stained glass crosses.  These were simple to make – we used wax paper, construction paper, tissue paper and modge podge.  The kiddos are hoping to make some more of these in the near future and maybe make some different shapes/sizes.
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We finished up with the super messy yarn eggs.  These were a blast to make, but definitely not the easiest.  I didn’t even attempt these until Emma was napping.  Callie needed constant help and even a couple of my other kiddos needed some help here and there.  Between having watery glue dripping all over the place and being all over our hands it made for a bit of a mess. Combine that with trying to pick up individual pieces of dry yarn to wrap on the glue covered balloon, and well, it made for some sticky situations, ha!  Thankfully, the kiddos were all troopers and we had a great time.  I’m pretty sure making the yarn eggs was some nice therapy for me as I was thoroughly enjoying myself even after all of the kiddos finished to go and play! 
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So there you have it – our crafty day! 

14 days of valentines

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Last year, after finding a neat idea on pinterest, I created 14 days of valentines for Brian.  I printed out cute labels and bought something small to go along with each valentine.  He loved it!  I’m pretty sure even though his co-workers thought we are the sappiest couple out there, they were secretly wishing for their own 14 days of valentines, ha!  Surprisingly, the kids were so excited each day to hear all about which valentine I gave him and loved talking to him about his surprise each day.  So this year, I thought it would be a blast to not only do the 14 days of valentines for my hubby, but also for the kiddos!  I bought cute little Target dollar bin mailboxes and then used scrapbooking paper and stickers to decorate them.  I also came up with ideas for each valentine and then bought something small for each day to put inside the mailbox.  Here is what I came up with (some are original and some I discovered online):

In no particular order, except for Feb. 14th, I will use the M&M’s for a treat!
1.  You “color” my world with happiness – crayons or markers
2.  Life is a “circus” with you around and I love it! – animal crackers
3.  Hope your day is “marvelous and magnificent,” just like you! – M&M’s
4.  You make life a little “sweeter” – lollipop (or other candy)
5.  I love you “more than chocolate,” and that’s very much! – chocolate chip granola bar
6.  You “knock my socks off” – a pair of socks
7.  You “blow” me away – bubbles
8.  I love all of your “bear” hugs – gummy bears (teddy grahams)
9.  It’s “o-fish-al,” you’re the best kid ever! – goldfish crackers
10.  Have a “ball” today! – bouncy ball
11.  I “wheelie” love playing with you! – matchbox car
12.  Some “bunny” loves you – Annie’s bunnies
13.  You are “extra” special and I love you! – Extra gum
14.  You are just the “write” kiddo for this family! – pencils and note cards
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In case anyone is interested in the valentines that I am using this year for Brian, here they are (these are actually a combination of some that I used last year and new ones that I am using this year, but I thought I would include them all):
1.  You have ofishally stolen my heart OR you are ofishally the best husband ever – Goldfish or Swedish fish
2.  You are the apple of my eye – An apple or apple candy
3.  You are one hot tamale – Box of hot tamales
4.  I’m nuts about you – Pistachios or any other kind of nut
5.  I wouldn’t chews anyone but you – Any kind of gum
6.  I think you are sodaamazing – Favorite soda
7.  We were mint to be together – Mints
8.  We make a great combo – Combos
9.  Thanks for sticking by my side – Lip balm
10.  I would be so mixed up without you – Homemade chex mix
11.  Life would be unbearable without you – Gummy bears
12.  You color my world – Skittles
13.  It’s a joy being married to you – Almond Joy
14.  I want you now and later – Now and Later candy
15.  Thank you for working extra hard for us! – Extra gum
16.  I’d fall to pieces OR I love you to pieces – Reese’s Pieces
17.  It’s as plain as black and white, we’re meant for each other – TJ’s Joe-Joe’s or Oreo’s
18.  I love you more than chocolate, and that’s a lot! – His favorite chocolate candy – TJ’s almond clusters

For the kiddos, I put the valentine and small item in their mailboxes (that will be on the island every morning) after they are in bed each night.  For Brian, I try to sneakily lay out his valentine with his keys/wallet before we go up to bed each night (or quick run down while he is brushing his teeth, ha!).  Sometimes I also try to put it in his car without him noticing.  On the weekends I often leave it on his pillow for him to find.
I realize that February 1st is today, but I only finished making the mailboxes this week while my hubby was out of town and I didn’t get a chance to post until now.  But I figure there is always next year that you can start planning for if you can’t pull together something this year!  And for the record, if you are only planning to surprise your hubby OR the kiddos, I would go with the hubby!!   

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!