Saturday, December 30, 2017


Our Christmas day in pictures and caption stories...
The children are so excited! It was contained excitement though. Some of them are growing up.
Aliza was the first to give her gifts. She was so excited to give. Aliza put so much thought into the gifts she picked out for everyone. Anna had to close her eyes...
...because Anna's gift was a basket of small things that Anna loves.
A gift card for a Daddy/Daughter date.
And for me--Aliza started working on a very special gift for me on Sept. 25. I had no idea that she was making something for me even though it was saved on my computer! Aliza wrote me a one and a half page, typed, single spaced letter of how much she loves me, 38 reasons why she loves me, a paragraph of encouragement and closed with a Christmas poem that she wrote. So incredibly special and sweet. I'll be re-reading that one frequently!
And then Josiah gave his gifts. Anna *sortof* loved the Barbie.
She tackled Josiah with a hug.
Aliza was hard to shop for this year. Josiah wasn't sure about what he chose for her, but she loved it and he was right there to check it out with her.
How sweet is this moment when Anna gave Aliza the gift she picked out for her. I loved seeing the joy of giving this year.
Isaiah loved, loved, loved opening presents. He was perfectly thrilled with all the Paw Patrol toys he inherited from his cousin. It's probably the only year that I'll be able to get away with re-gifting toys for Christmas and this time I refused to feel guilty about it.
So much happy in this boy!
Anna was a bundle of happy too. =)
Josiah was really playing it cool all morning--and actually the whole season. Whenever he was asked what he wanted for Christmas, he wouldn't really say. Mostly because what he wanted he didn't think we would get for him. So when he opened that Lego robot that he wanted he was excited...
...and he cried. I might be sad when he doesn't cry when he's happy anymore. I might add that the robot is really cool. So far he has played with it a lot!
All Aliza wanted was the Special Edition Dancing with the Stars People Magazine.
She promptly read it cover to cover. (We gave her some other things too that she appreciated.)
Christmas evening was with my family.
We had a lot of fun together.
Isaiah has been watching his gift every time we have visited my parents in the last several weeks. He always asks if he can open it and we finally, finally said yes.
A boat, a shark, a helicopter and a car! It was the perfect play set for him. He LOVED it and continues to LOVE it!
The only other thing Aliza wanted was a journal and she couldn't hardly believe that I didn't give it to her. She got it from Aunt Meghan.
Great Grandad set up his train set on his table. The children really enjoyed watching the train. Funny story--my Mom, Brian, and I were sitting at the table and Grandad asked us what we thought of his sweater. He told us that he got it at Herod's when he and Gramma traveled to London--in 1972!! That would make the sweater 45 years old. lol. He said he still likes it and plans to continue to wear it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was on a Sunday this year and the children were just convinced that Saturday was Christmas "Adam". Because, surely, there can't be an "Eve" without an "Adam." I had all of my Christmas preparations finished so it was a pretty quiet day. I was hoping the mood to bake would strike, but it didn't.

We started church at 4:30pm with cupcakes and hot chocolate--a birthday party for Jesus. It is always fun to sing the traditional Christmas carols. The children sang Happy Birthday Jesus. I sat right in the front to help them sing. They all sang really well! It was a big help to have Aliza and Josiah singing too. Renee and Anna held hands the whole time. Towards the end of the song Anna looked at me and did her newly learned winking with both eyes. Kinda made me heart melt!

After church we had the traditional pizza and shrimp at Mom and Dad's house. Isaiah has been watching his gift under the tree at Grandma's house and he can hardly wait to open it. It was just a quiet and relaxing evening. All of a sudden Josiah and Anna were READY to go home. They wanted to go to bed so that morning would come faster.

When we got home they did get ready for bed pretty quickly. Aliza took a shower and soon I heard sobbing coming from the bathroom. I couldn't figure out what could possibly be wrong. The sobbing didn't stop and when I talked to her she didn't really know why she was crying but just couldn't stop. So much emotion the night before Christmas! Everyone slept well though. In fact, no one even crawled into our bed.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Gingerbread Decorating

The gingerbread decorating tradition continued this year. It's pretty neat to watch the decorating techniques mature. There were no piles of icing this year.

Isaiah fell asleep in the car and slept through the decorating. We saved some cookies for him to decorate, but when he woke up he was happy to just eat cookies.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Bethlehem Adventure

I didn't take a single picture, but what I thought was going to be a pretty low key adventure turned out to be a blog worthy circus. A local church has put on the interactive drama "A Walk Through Bethlehem" for probably at least 8 years. We pass this church on the way to my parent's house. We watch them start setting up the outdoor Bethlehem town in October and it takes until Feb/March for them to tear it all down. It is elaborate! We have also driven past while the tours were happening and there have always been long lines...year after year. This year I decided that my children were old enough to handle the line and that this would be a fun thing to experience.

Last night was the night Janell and I decided to go. It opened at 6:00 and we arrived at 6:30. We got in line. It wasn't too cold, but it was chilly. Isaiah was doing somersaults in the grass. Some of the others were complaining from the get go. Renee and Anna were *loudly* practicing their tap dance. After an hour we got to the door of the church.

Once in the church we were seated in the sanctuary where groups of approximately 20 were dismissed at a time to go on the guided tour of Bethlehem. Nine groups were seated in the sanctuary. There were music videos playing which was nice until there was a song where the graphics vividedly depicted Jesus's death. Aliza and Josiah tried to be brave and they were for a while. I took a group to the bathroom and when I got back Aliza and Josiah were crying. By this time we had been waiting for another hour--and there were still 5 groups to be dismissed ahead of us. We figured it was at least another half hour wait.

So 2 kids in tears and scared. One 3 year old past his bedtime and getting crazy. I looked at Janell kindof desperately. We took bets on how mad our husbands would be if we bailed after waiting for 2 hours. She was closer to the men than I was, but she didn't have to say much before they stood up--and we walked out. Renee and Anna were the only disappointed ones because they had each other and paper and pencils.

I was completely expecting to leave, but it happened that Janell knew the first usher and Jeremy and I knew the next usher. Those ladies asked us (or told us, I'm not sure how it happened) to join the next group. As we stood there Aliza and Josiah's hysteria got even worse because they found out that Roman guards were going to be part of drama in Bethlehem. Aliza was a mess. Janell took such great care of her. Sometime Mommy's just run out of emotional energy! (Thank goodness for Aunts!)

And then we entered Bethlehem. If we didn't have the insane wait and crazy kids, the experience would have been amazing. It was almost a living museum and as we walked through Bethlehem the Christmas story unfolded through action and conversation. It was a 30 minute interactive drama and once the children settled in they really enjoyed it. I think all the children said that if they didn't have to see the videos in the sanctuary they would want to go again next year. I would be so curious to know how many people return year after year or if most people are going for the first time.

At this moment I think I've crossed that off my bucket list. I guess we'll see if the memory gets better with time by next year!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

December Snow

It is pretty unusual to have a significant snow in mid December. It was dark by the time there was accumulation, but once Josiah realized that the snow would pack, the dark did not stop him from making a snowman.
By morning we woke up to a winter wonderland. The snow was wet and heavy and piled up on the branches. Really my favorite kind of snow. The evergreens did not bear the burden well. We have a lot of large branches that fell.

The whole family played in the snow. =)

I'm not a huge fan of snow, but for this snow, at this time, I was so thankful. It was a Saturday and it just slowed us down. We snuggled in and enjoyed the season. There were lots of cups of hot chocolate between playing outside. There were wet clothes strewn over too many rooms and I honestly didn't even care. We lost electricity for an hour in the afternoon and then for 4 hours (7-11) in the evening. In the evening, we turned on our propane fireplace and read some stories by flashlight. The kids got a little crazy. There was roughhousing and general chaos and I straightened up the house by candlelight. (It was kindof funny to see what I missed the next morning!) We went to bed early. And I didn't mind at all.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Moments to Remember

Every year the children do a Christmas program for the adults at Community Bible Study. Up until this year, Anna has never stood on the stage much less participated. She always came to sit with me, sometimes crying loudly. Josiah used to do the same thing and then one time he stood up and participated so I figured that one day Anna would do the same.

She did. And that day was today. Last week she told her teacher that she wanted to have a part to read and she agreed to sing a song with Aliza. Anna practiced this week and pretty well had her part memorized. I dropped her off this morning and sat down and held my breath to see what would happen.

Aliza held her hand on the way in and when they got to the stage I could see that Anna had been crying. She looked around, wiped her eyes, found me and smiled a little bit. I could tell that she had pulled herself together and was going to make it. Aliza read her part and then Anna read hers, then Josiah and another classmate. All of them read clearly and slowly. I was super proud of all of them. But when Anna finished, Aliza put her arm around her, whispered that she did a great job and kissed the top of her head. That moment could not have been scripted and it was so Aliza. Anna is so lucky to have a big sister who adores her, looks out for her and is so encouraging.

Then Aliza and Anna sang a song that Aliza learned with the Magi Choir. This was the first time that Aliza ever sang a solo. I know that she was counting on Anna to sing with her! Aliza was pretty nervous! They did very well.

Josiah did super great also. She reads so well and appears very comfortable on the stage even though I know that he is nervous. And Isaiah just sat there, but he was still and didn't cry even when he saw me.

It was a morning that I was super, super proud of my growing up kiddos.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Trimming that Tree

After the second half of the family recovered from the stomach nonsense, I was ready to get the tree decorated and really kick off the Christmas season. We got a very late start on a Monday evening. School drug on and supper was late, but I was determined to get that tree up! It was 9:30 or so when we finished. Unfortunately, that made the whole process feel a bit like a chore instead of a party. Aliza, however, declared that she loved every party of it.  Pretzel treats and Puppy Chow are must have snacks while decorating the tree and it was nice that everyone could enjoy them.
The pile of decorations grew this year as I added some that I found in Gramma's treasures. With so many helpers, though, it didn't take very long to get them hung.

The children like to hang the decorations that are theirs so I separate them into piles. Anna was very aggressive about picking out allll the other decorations that she wanted to hang. All of "hers" went into a box that she promptly hid so that no one would "steal" them.

Isaiah was a very busy helper. I think every picture we took had some type of blurry movement in it.

We added a new ornament this year. Janell found this sometime last summer and called me to see if I wanted it. I said yes! Jeremy makes eggs and bacon for breakfast several times a week. He takes pictures of his smiley bacon and egg face and posts it on instagram. One of the morning television shows contacted him a couple years ago asking if they could use his pictures for a breakfast photo montage they were doing for a segment.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Joy Dare::November

4874. Josiah got some Daddy time
4875. Anna showed me she has the ability to clean up
4876. My girls love Wednesday night club so much
4877. Aliza had her first experience as an official childcare helper
4878. Aunts to love on their neices
4879. The children so excited to watch Daddy unbox his new phone
4880. Seeing family from Texas
4881. Harper's Ferry was so pretty even with gray skies and sprinkling rain
4882. The TV in the restaurant was on a show that didn't scare my children
4883. Late night watching This Is Us with Brandi
4884. A couple surprise finds at Target
4885. Christmas craft with Aunt Sarah before we left
4886. The official family dinner--Thanksgiving style
4887. An unexpected picnic lunch
4888. Quiet house and our own bed
4889. A really enjoyable visit this morning
4890. A big question
4891. The first rainy, cold day of the season
4892. Survived an almost embarrassing situation
4893. Aliza beyond excited after finding out what one of her recital songs is
4894. A day to just focus on school
4895. Breakfast for supper
4896. All the falling leaves
4897. Birds at our new feeders
4898. Taking care of nieces and nephews
4899. Text messaging that allows me to have day to day conversation with faraway friends
4900. Celebrating Grandad's 90th birthday
4901. Spending time with my parents and family
4902. The sting of missing Gramma
4903. A clean bathroom is really good for my self-esteem
4904. A little scrapbooking this weekend
4905. Phone call with Grandad
4906. Had Mom to sit with during Magi practice
4907. 4 dentist appointments and no cavities
4908. A wreath on my door that I love
4909. Everybody played outside for a long time
4910. The empty house while they were outside so I could get some cleaning done
4911. Another super exciting dance class for Aliza
4912. Being able to enjoy pushing Isaiah in the swing
4913. The text that said she changed her mind
4914. Listening to discussion of people who have studied Scripture longer than I have
4915. Dropping everything to take Anna shopping for her birthday party supplies
4916. Now that Josiah is finished with choir, I hear him singing all the songs
4917. A knock on the door that was my mom
4918. Heard "I am so thankful for you Mom, in multiple ways."
4919. An afternoon with Chrissy
4920. Aliza's concert went so much better than she expected (her own answer to prayer)
4921. Time with Anna this evening
4922. A nap and a scrapbook page is so rejuvenating
4923. When Jeremy makes breakfast
4924. Enjoyed Aliza's concert
4925. Josiah woke up very happy
4926. Shower ideas are usually the best
4927. Isaiah added a lot of goofy joy to our visit with Andy and Judy
4928. No plans this evening
4929. Everyone helping frost Anna's cupcakes
4930. Bowling!
4931. Spending the evening with Janell
4932. Anna loving her birthday present
4933. Laughter around the table
4934. Visiting with Mom, Dad and Grandad
4935. Making pies
4936. A wonderful Thanksgiving Day meal and dessert table
4937. Grandad and Dad looking at old pictures
4938. Self-control to not spend $$ on spending day
4939. Truffles
4940. Brothers playing together in the leaves
4941. Sisters playing princesses together
4942. One more Thanksgiving feast
4943. A very quick, smooth trip home
4944. Time to get organized for the week
4945. Family bedtime snacktime
4946. Caught the mouse!
4947. Warm sun and lovely to be outside
4948. Looking my daughter in they eye and speaking truth
4949. Aliza and Anna had Aunt time
4950. Connecting with a dance Mom who is practically my neighbor
4951. All of us together for supper
4952. Worship was the best yet!
4953. Good that I got all the errands done
4954. Grace to take care of 2 sick kids
4955. Friend to check on me while I was sick
4956. Sickness passed reasonable quickly
4957. Isaiah started potty training essentially on his own

Friday, December 1, 2017

Lollipop Motivation

Out of the blue on Wednesday afternoon Josiah got sick. Two hours later, Anna got sick. And 4 hours after Anna, I got sick. Needless to say, yesterday (Thursday) was a sick day at our house. From my nest on the couch Thursday morning, I could see that Isaiah's diaper was past needing to be changed. I didn't feel up to walking upstairs for a new one, so I took it off and pulled his pajama pants up and told him to pee in the potty when he needed to.

Now there has been a bag of lollipops on top of the pantry for several weeks waiting for Isaiah to earn them by using the potty. He has really wanted a lollipop, but not bad enough to use the potty. Yesterday was the magic day--he used the potty! After one lollipop he wanted more and he tried over and over to use the potty until he was successful again! Even being sick I couldn't help laughing when he was standing at the potty hitting his butt "to get the pee to come out." There were no accidents yesterday.

This morning I was much better--back to normal really--and I changed Isaiah's diaper right away. To my astonishment, his diaper was dry! Isaiah was not impressed about not having a diaper on, but I stuck to it and after a while he was doing a victory run out of the bathroom. He had an accident this morning, but after his nap his diaper was dry again and no more accidents.

I'm not claiming any great victory here. It's only day 2 and seeing as how this is my 4th child, I know that this journey generally has ups and downs, twists and turns. But for day 2, I'm pretty tickled and, for just a moment here, I'll think that maybe--maybe?!--the 4th time is a charm! lol

A side effect of Isaiah getting lollipops is that everyone else wants them too. It's almost hilarious how Josiah and Anna will do school happily for a lollipop or get off the computer without complaining for a lollipop. Aliza pretty much does those things already so she gets a lollipop when she finishes school.

The moral of this story is that lollipops are apparently a very effective tool for motivation.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dance News by Aliza

This year I am taking a jazz and lyrical dance class. Lyrical is a new dance style for me. I have gone to this dance studio for five years and when you go for five years you get a trophy during the recital! That is very special to me because I have never had a trophy before. Anna is also taking dance lessons at the same studio. So I knew at the beginning of the year this recital was going to be very memorable, but I never saw this awesome news coming!

One week I arrived at the dance studio as normal and every thing went smoothly. In the middle of class my teacher called us into a huddle. She explained that she did a big "thing" every recital. She was talking about how she was doing Moana for our lyrical piece and she wants US to be the one and only Moana! I am very very very excited, but a little nervous at the same time. Because we are the stars of the whole recital. This now leads to another story.

One week my teacher and friends were talking and my friend said she had a whole list of songs we could do for our recital. My teacher said we could bring in the songs and artists on paper next week, but we shouldn't be sad if she doesn't pick our song. After she said that I decided not to bring one in. The next week my friends brought there lists. At the end of class I told my teacher I had a song I would like to request because what is the least that would happen? She pulled out a piece of paper out of no where and a pen out of no where because my teacher can do that. And wrote down my favorite song, Girlz by L2M. The next week I asked about it and she said that she was just looking at possibilities. So I kind of forgot about it. Then we found out we are going to be Moana so then I totally forgot about it. The week after we found out we were Moana my teacher called us to a huddle again. She told us we were going to hear our jazz song. She added not to judge the song for the first few seconds and then turned it off. I wasn't too crazy about it, but then she said to listen to this second song. I was very excited because I have never had a choice. She turned on the song which was Girlz! My teacher kept on winking at me. I was sooooo excited! After the song was over some girls asked when the decision was going to be made. My teacher said "It's done. Its the second one.". I was overjoyed. My favorite song ,that I've dreamed of dancing to, is the one we are dancing to for the recital.

This is the recital that I will never, ever, ever forget.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Celebrating Anna

Sometimes it's a little tricky to celebrate a birthday right before a holiday. This year Anna's birthday was the day before Thanksgiving and we had several smaller celebrations for her.

Anna went to the store with me to pick out her plates and desserts. There was a lot of pink! She wanted to decorate her own cupcakes.
Anna chose bowling for her birthday outing with Renee and Lydia. Bowling with 6 kids kept Janell and I busy!

Then we went to Janell's house for pizza and play. Renee and Lydia gave Anna a Jojo bow. It's a huge sparkly bow that a young singer has made popular. Anna was  pretty thrilled!
Birthday morning with her bow in her hair and another one around her wrist!
Grandma, Grandad and Great Grandad came for supper and dessert. We had a fun evening with them. The children were so excited. It was a bit of a circus!

After Thanksgiving she had one more celebration with her Heslop family!