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!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy 7th Birthday Anna!
There are moments when I think Anna is going on 14. She loves her clothes, shoes, make up parties with Grandma Karen and now her JoJo hair bows. Thankfully, though, Anna will only be 7 today! 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Breathing Again

For the past several weeks I feel like I have been chasing life and getting farther behind every day. Yesterday I was almost in tears. I didn't know where to start and so I started by dropping everything and taking Anna to the store to pick out her birthday plates and napkins. It seems like a minor detail, but getting her birthday settled in her mind was a huge relief to me. Aliza took the day in stride and let me help her figure out how to fit school and play into her day. She was much happier throughout the day. At 4:00 all 4 children went outside to play. They played happily for about an hour and it was the hour I needed. The house was quiet and empty! I got some cleaning done and some extra cleaning and supper started. When Isaiah came in and asked me to push him on the swing, I said yes. That was a magical moment--I said yes! And I smiled and we went outside. He said, "Mommy, I run so fast to swing and be a rocket." He chattered away and I pushed him like a rocket.
And I took a picture because is was a little moment and I wanted to remember how much my perspective can change in a hour and with a yes.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Celebrating Grandad

 Does this man look 90?! He gets it all the time--people can't believe that Grandad is 90. Grandad is definitely 90 years young. He drives and gardens and today was telling me about the Bible study group he is teaching.
We spent the afternoon at my parents eating lunch and spending time together. Grandad's sister, brother in law and nephew came from Pennsylvania which added just the right "special" to the day. Other local friends stopped in during the afternoon.

All of us girls felt the sting of Gramma's absence. Gramma LOVED celebrating and visiting and reason for good desserts. But here's the thing--now that Gramma is gone, I call Grandad and talk to him. And so I am very thankful for this time with Grandad. That I can show just him that I love him and that he can be a part of our every day lives. Every day of life is a gift, but I'm thinking that maybe every day of life after your 90th birthday is an extra special gift.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Texas Family Time

Last weekend was our time with Jeremy's brother, Josh, and his family. They visit once a year and it is a highly anticipated weekend with cousins and spending nights at Uncle Joel and Aunt Brandi's house.
Saturday afternoon we took an excursion to Harper's Ferry. We walked walked out to Jefferson Point where you can see the Potomac River and the mountains. Then we walked down to the mountain to the downtown area of Harper's Ferry.

The Heslop Men

The Heslop Girls

Our group of 14 managed to get separated in the process of finding bathrooms once to we got into Harper's Ferry. It also started sprinkling. While Joel and Jeremy went back up the mountain to retrieve the cars, I dragged my children to another lookout point. From this point we could see the Shenandoah River meet the Potomac River. I thought it was beautiful. The gray sky made the colors of the leaves stand out.
And then I realized that you could walk across the bridge and I thought that would be so much fun! lol.
It was fun for me (and Brandi--I think!).
And it was really pretty.
We missed out on ice cream in Harper's Ferry, but our car stopped and got some on the way back. Isaiah was very pleased because he started talking about ice cream way back when we were walking down the mountain.
We ate pizza that night. Anna and Evelyn were sitting beside each other and with their pig tails and blonde hair they looked like they could be sisters.
Florence is 17 months old and she came to snuggle on my lap once in a while.
Other highlights of the weekend were Thanksgiving dinner, seeing Joanna Gaines new line in Target and watching the first couple of episodes of This is Us. Oh! And pumpkin spice bagels and chai.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Joy Dare::October

4792. Unpacking Gramma's Christmas villages
4793. Welcoming my aunt, cousin and her boys
4794. Loving my mom
4795. Choosing more of Gramma's treasures and closing this chapter
4796. Aliza helping SO MUCH taking care of the younger children
4797. Time with Hannah
4798. Making birthday treats
4799. Quiet car during dance--I read!
4800. New pajamas
4801. Celebrating Isaiah
4802. Isaiah loving his birthday
4803. Fall morning at the beach
4804. Awesome shells
4805. Gramma memories today
4806. Sunglasses
4807. Chick-fil-a laughing with Aliza and Josiah
4808. Singing in the car
4809. Attending a wedding
4810. A day with Jeremy
4811. A couple hours (that flew by) with Matt and Chrissy
4812. Grandparents who love spending a day with their grandchildren
4813. Isaiah learning to play Memory
4814. All of the girls' fun with makeup
4815. Chrissy remembered something I told her a long time ago
4816. Josiah had a most amazing attitude about school today
4817. Peaceful, priceless moments
4818. Aliza singing with me
4819. Time to sit beside Jeremy
4820. Another great day of school with Josiah
4821. Aliza's total excitement over Dancing with the Stars
4822. Aliza hasn't had too much pain with her expander
4823. Afternoon visiting with my Mom
4824. The new stuff I think about from Bible study
4825. Meghan doing schoolwork with my kids
4826. Introducing my friend to Grandad
4827. A scrapbook page this evening
4828. Writing a real letter
4829. Choir wasn't as bad as Josiah thought it would be
4830. Evenings at home
4831. Weekend pajama mornings
4832. They are weeds but the purple flowers in the yard are pretty anyway
4833. A morning with friends
4834. A card in the mail
4835. Steak for dinner
4836. Sharing common theology
4837. Walking to the car with Lydia and I get to ask her about her day and hear a story or two
4838. Isaiah so tired he chose my lap
4839. Anna ate at the big kids table
4840. Easy 3 year old well check
4841. Picnic, playground and trails
4842. Aliza enjoying creation and the moment
4843. A friend to help Jeremy with his car
4844. Sweet conversation with Anna
4845. Taking advantage of a beautiful afternoon
4846. A thoughtful, generous, surprising gift of thanks
4847. Family time!
4848. Beautiful falls on the Potomac River
4849. Hotel, pool, family slumber party
4850. Super fun trail to the other side of the falls
4851. Experiencing the C & O Canal
4852. Memories made
4853. Happy playing this morning after being away
4854. Hot tea
4855. Having a 4th grader this year
4856. Leading worship went well
4857. Orange dance costumes in the black light
4858. Aliza making Sean giggle
4859. All of Isaiah's plans to play with Grandma
4860. First tea
4861. The pecans were so pretty on the tree
4862. Aliza so excited that her Daddy successfully ordered (he had to wake at 3am to order as soon as the iPhoneX was released) the phone he's been waiting for
4863. Having Mom off work for a whole week was so nice
4864. Friend time, tea and shopping
4865. Sister and brother in law who love my kids
4866. Shopping with my daughters
4867. Sunday naps
4868. Choir practice went better for Josiah
4869. Isaiah's stories
4870. Candy and a movie
4871. Got our work done and relaxed this afternoon
4872. Tried not to hurry today
4873. I now own a cardigan--and I might wear it every day!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Great Falls--Maryland

Thanks to the room darkening curtains in the hotel room, everyone slept in really late. I almost had to wake up Isaiah so that we could make it down to breakfast before it closed. At breakfast, I had the big idea to go to the Maryland side of Great Falls before we went into DC to the National Arboretum. Everyone was up for that and I'm so glad we went. We had the best time there. I packed lunches for Saturday and Sunday so we ate our lunch on the grass beside the C & O Canal. Josiah was super jealous of all the people bike riding. One day we need to go back and ride the towpath on bike. Our lunch view was very idyllic.
After lunch we walked to the falls overlook. The views from the trail were as amazing as the Potomac River itself. The trail was completely boardwalk with concrete bridges. Josiah and Anna were quite fearful of the bridges, but they conquered them with our hands and/or arms.
The hills, the coloring leaves, the water, the warm fall air and blue sky, it was just beautiful!

And then we got to the outlook of the falls--where we didn't take many pictures! Actually I hardly remember even looking which is quite sad. Another reason we will have to go back, I guess! There were a lot of people and the overlook wasn't as large as the ones on the Virginia side.
There were also these rock structures that I had a 3 year old climbing on which led to a lot more child watching than water fall watching!
When little legs got tired, Daddy carried Isaiah on his shoulders.
The unexpected part of the day was that the timing worked out that we could tour the C & O Canal on a mule pulled boat. It was an hour long tour. The boatmen were dressed in period clothing and a woman also dressed in period clothing talked the whole time about the canal and history of the time period. I am a lot more knowledgeable about the canal now than I was before!

Side story: I told (my) Grandad about this boat ride and he told me about how when he was a boy (younger than 8 or 9, I believe) his family lived beside a canal and boats pulled my mule came through on the canal transporting coal.

Coal was also the main thing that was transported on the C & O Canal. So here was are on the boat!
The most interesting part of the tour was going through an original lock. The only way that I can really explain a lock, despite the tour guide giving us a demonstration and experiencing it, is that a lock is a boat elevator. I was surprised at how narrow the lock was. There was 3 inches of clearance on each side of the boat.

The white building (in the next picture) was an original stop on the canal. It's called The Tavern House, I believe. The tour guide told us all about it. lol. Anna learned that it takes a horse and a donkey to make a mule from the tour guide.
I wanted to find the letterbox while we were there. This is me sitting on the wrong rock while the rest of the crew found the right one! I never fail to make Jeremy sigh and shake his head at my lack of skill in following letterbox clues.
They found it though and I was excited because letterboxes just make me excited.
It was a cool view from the letterbox. That's the boat we were on in the canal. Behind the boat you can see a path and then some more water. The far water is the Potomac River. I thought it was really interesting how close the canal followed the river.
The original agenda for Sunday was to go to the National Arboretum. I didn't think we would spend *that* much time at the arboretum which is why I suggested going back to the falls. I almost thought everyone would just want to go home and skip the arboretum, but that was not the case. It was 22 miles and 45 minutes from the falls to the arboretum--just the right distance for Isaiah (and Anna) to catch a nap. Aliza and Josiah were pretty excited to see the Washington Monument as we drove. Isaiah and Anna were sleeping when we arrived so I decided that we should drive around the park and see the different collections. At this point we weren't up for any long walks although Josiah saw a lot of trails that he wanted to walk. We were at the arboretum for a single exhibit.

A few months ago we read The Peace Tree from Hiroshima for our Family Dinner Book Club. At the end of the book we learned that the bonsai tree that Japan gave the United States after WWII is housed at the National Arboretum and since then it has been on my list of places to visit.

We arrived at the Visitor's Center at 4:20 only to find out that the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum closed at 4:00. It was a disappointing end to the day!
We walked around a little bit, but really didn't have any energy left to do any exploring.
That's Aliza's finger touching the butterfly's wings.
Panera for supper on the way home helped rejuvenate everyone's moods.

The good memories outweigh any bickering, complaining or other annoying kid and family stuff that might have occurred. lol. I'll be dreaming up our next adventure soon!