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Long time, no see.

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I know, I know.

I’ve been horrible about taking pictures, and even worse about blogging the ones I have.

But, as I’m going through my years of photos putting together our digital books, I’m realizing what a valuable resource my blog has been to look back on. Everything is documented here for me. So even if no one reads it, its my memory book.

So, time to catch up.

First, how about this little lady?

She is FOUR!

I really can’t believe it. She had grown up so much over the past year. I forget how big the jump between 3 and 4 is developmentally. Her personality is edible. Like, she is the best person I know. She is just so compassionate; maybe I’m awed over it because I lack it, so to see it so clearly in such a wee lass is astounding to me. She doesn’t have to work to be kind; she just IS kind. She is sweet and sincere and everything good. She has a flair for drama which rounds out her perfection and gets her feelings hurt easily, which I’m trying to teach her to protect. She is my “easiest” child, but the one I fear the most for. She is so quick to do whatever it takes to make peace, to please others. Teaching her to strive to please only God will be a tough one.

She loves My Little Pony. She pretty much got everything you could ask for in that department.

01-London Birthday 9

I think she had a great time!

Best friends. Seriously. They’ve hit this period where all they do is just play with one another. They don’t even ask me to join in. Hours and hours will be spent together by their dollhouse, pony castle, or drawing. In fact, come to think of it, I haven’t seen them in a bit…

As for the house, we have bathroom cabinets!

And kitchen cabinets!

It is alllllllmost done! All that is left is painting the outside of the house, installing countertops, laying carpet (the tile is finished), and then all the lights/sinks/fixtures. We should be able to move in by mid-late March! One month! So, needless to say, I’m very busy around here packing up and getting ready to move out. Goodwill is my friend right now.

School is going really well! I’ll need to write a whole different post on that, but its been great. Jackson, at 6, has almost completed memorizing his times tables (he only has the 8’s left). Crazy. I can’t believe how quickly he breezes through math; he says its his least favorite subject, but he does so well with it. London is ready to start reading, and has been practicing writing letters.

So, that’s what we’ve been up to. Packing, learning, packing, cleaning. Then more packing. 🙂

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The Ultimate Christmas Post

 

Merry Christmas!!!

I hope your holiday was as joyful as ours was, all things considering. Grampy passing put a somber mood over things (even now, writing one of the first posts he won’t see is very strange and sad), but we forged ahead and continued on as best we could. Lots of photos ahead, so grab a cuppa tea and settle in!

This year we started a new tradition with the kids called “The Christmas Express”. I printed up these tickets and hide them under their pillows before bed. While Greg was tucking them all in upstairs, I was busy popping popcorn, making hot cocoa, and putting Christmas music on in the van. Earlier, without the kids knowing, we strung Christmas lights inside the van! Right after story time as the kids were crawling in their beds, Greg told them to check under their pillows and explained that it wasn’t bedtime and that we were going to drive around and look at Christmas lights! They were ECSTATIC! They came running down the stairs full of excitement!

photo-8 copy

They opened up the front door, made their way to the now festive van, and had their tickets punched to climb aboard the Christmas Express! Days later, London still talks about her “hot cocoa chocolate at night”. This will be a yearly tradition from now on, and I can’t wait until next year to surprise them with tickets under their pillows again!

Christmas morning was so fun this year!

Her one wish...a My Little Pony!

Her one wish…a My Little Pony!

Her one wish...a Furreal puppy!

Her one wish…a Furreal puppy!

His one wish...an iPad mini!

His one wish…an iPad mini!

A lightsaber and the Jedi cloak I made him

A lightsaber and the Jedi cloak I made him

Two of everything!

Two of everything!

A happy Jedi!

A happy Jedi!


We decided to head to the Strachan’s for Christmas dinner that afternoon. We had SO much fun! I have an amazing brother and sister-in-law who are so giving, kind, and compassionate. Creativity is also one of their strong suits, and they decided to put on a play of the Christmas Story. Jackson was Joseph and the girls were shepherds.

It was hysterical, to say the least! I need to figure out a way to upload the video of the “production” on here. It was awesome!

The Grandparents and their Crew! {minus one…Bethany had to work!}

Our beautiful family!

Our beautiful family!

 The girls got sparkly pink Toms from Nana and Jerry for Christmas. I’m really not sure if they’ve taken them off since except at bedtime. They are ALWAYS on their feet. This morning London and Brooklyn both wanted to praise God for their pink Toms in their prayers, lol! It was a hit, Nana!

This year was the first year in 10 years that I haven’t gone down to Tucson to spend Christmas Eve with my family. It was really hard for me. It’s just become really difficult with the kids because its usually close to 11pm by the time we get home that night, and then Christmas the next day…its a lot. So, my awesome parents decided that they would come to US the day after Christmas! I was THRILLED!

Papa and Jackson battling...Battleship style!

Papa and Jackson battling…Battleship style!

Auntie Melynda!

Auntie Melynda!

My stepsister was visiting from New York and it was awesome to get to see her! I can’t wait to make it to New York…perhaps in the fall? {“Don’t you just love New York in the Fall?”…name that movie!}

We had a wonderful Christmas full of blessings. I’m excited to start 2013 and see all that it hold for us! See you in the New Year!

To Grampy, with love.

 

 

 

Massachusetts, 1945

Massachusetts, 1945

Dear Grampy,

Almost 7 years ago, this blog was started for you and Nana.

Being so far away, we wanted you two to feel, as best as you could, close to us. We wanted you to see your great-grandchildren more than just times you’d get pictures in the mail, but rather weekly, or even daily (if I was that consistent!). It was our way of sharing our stories with you, hoping that you’d feel like you were there with us, even though 3,000 miles kept us apart.

You were my first reader. I am so very saddened that you aren’t reading this now, that you won’t see what’s to come, but I’m so thankful that this little place on the internet has been a place for you to see us.

I can’t remember if I ever told you how much it meant to me that you would print out every single blog post and save them in a binder. How I hope that I did. It meant so much to me.

I’m also thankful that there were times when we didn’t need the blog, that you were here or we were there, and you could hold and squeeze the little boy who carries your name. Kiss the little lady who was so tiny the last time you saw her.

Phoenix, 2008

Florida, 2007

Sedona, 2008

Phoenix, 2008

Florida, 2007

Grampy and Greg, 1977

Grampy and Greg, 1977

Grampy and Greg, 1981

Grampy and Greg, 1981

I knew every time that I published something here that at least one person would see it, that at least one person was checking daily for our random little stories about our lives.

Thank you, Grampy, for all the ways you blessed us. You were so kind to us, and quick to offer assistance whenever we needed it. You made sure that Jackson had a carseat and London had a crib. You even made sure, at one point, that I had a camera to keep on taking pictures!

We miss you. I miss knowing that you are here, reading this.

A thousand hugs and kisses from your grandchildren and great grandchildren,

Greg, Becki, Jackson, London, and Brooklyn

William Malloy1922-2012

William Malloy
1922-2012

A girl grown up. {plus some recipes!}

Clinging to my leg while I make lunch. This one is a Mama’s girl, for sure.

 

Guess who’s potty trained?

I really can’t believe it. She’s been interested for about six months or so, but would never actually do her business anywhere but her trusty diapers. Then on Friday I randomly got the idea to have her watch London go potty. She watched, asked to go, and that was the end of the story. No joke, she took one day to train! It took her until today to get, um, #2 all figured out. She’s only had a few accidents, and will sometimes even tell me when she needs to go (I have to remind her about 75% of the time, but she’ll get the hang of it). I’ve been changing diapers for almost seven years. It feels good to give Pampers the brush off, lol!

So, the binky is our last “baby” thing to let go. I’m waiting until the girls get more used to sharing a room before I let that one go. Which, by the way, is going awesome! They talk at night until they fall asleep, and will talk when they wake up in the morning. Every night London acts as though the dream might end. “Can I puh-leeeeeeease sleep with Brooklyn tonight?” as if I might move her out at any moment. 🙂

Now for a recipe! For the past two years we’ve made Peppermint Popcorn, and it is just too good not to share. I found the original recipe on Pinterest, but I’ve changed it to suit our needs.

Peppermint Popcorn
2 bags popped popcorn (can be microwave or air popped; we like Homestyle by Pop Secret)
6 candy canes, crushed
6 squares of white chocolate, melted (I use Bakers brand)

All you do is pop the popcorn, sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the popcorn, and then stir in the white chocolate. It is SO good! You can find the original recipe here, which calls for almond bark instead of white chocolate, uses more candy canes, and also uses peppermint extract. I’ve found that to be *too* peppermint-y, but experiment and find what works right!

And this. Oh my heavens, this is by far my favorite recipe I’ve ever found online. Its called Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin {click on the picture for the recipe}. I am not kidding, it is DELICIOUS, and it must make it to your dinner table soon. It’s crockpot, which makes it even better. It literally just falls apart when its done. I’ve made it several times and it is fool-proof. My only warning is to make sure that you buy pork loin, not pork roast. I made that mistake once, and while it was still good, it wasn’t the ‘melt in your mouth’ experience of the pork loin. I haven’t changed a single thing about this recipe, and that says a lot because I almost always change recipes, lol!

Other than all that, we are just gearing up for Christmas! The kids are SO excited this year. Jackson is really into Star Wars, so I found a tutorial online to make him a Jedi robe. I am less than stellar when it comes to sewing projects, so my awesome friend Jeannie let me come over and helped me make it. I can’t wait to give it to him (and show off my handiwork, lol!). It’s 1,000 times better than what I would buy and only cost $10 to make!

Off to finish up the popcorn. I ate it for breakfast today. And lunch. And midday snack. And…

Roommates

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We decided that this weekend would be a great time to move the girls into the same room. We knew that it would be an adjustment, and since they are sharing a room in the new house, we figured that we better have them comfortable with it now rather than throw it on them the night we move into a strange place.

To say I was anxious was a little bit of an understatement. None of our kids have ever shared a room with someone else. The girls are playmates to the ninth degree, so I imagined a slumber party going to the wee hours of the morning. I imagined them waking at the break of dawn after only falling asleep a few hours before. I went to friends who’s kids share a room, and all of them told me to calm down. Luckily for me, they were right! They did great! I mean, it did take them almost an hour to fall asleep last night, but they slept all night long without a problem. London even woke up at 7 crying, but Brooklyn didn’t even stir and kept on sleeping until 8:30 (probably from her late night chat session with her sister). We pushed our luck and tried to actually have them nap in the same room today. That was a complete disaster, so I’m going to have to figure out something for that. London is allllmost done with naps, but Brooklyn still needs them (and Mommy needs quiet time).

I love their little room. Their new room will be smaller than this, but its fun to see the bones of what it will look like. Gramma is making them beautiful throws for the bottom of their beds (they get them for Christmas! woo-hoo!) and I have to get their bookshelves for the wall, new reading lamps, these amazing prints I found, and the tissue poms for above their beds.

London loves sharing a room. She has been looking forward to it for a long time and has been practicing getting up quietly as to not wake her sleeping sister. Brooklyn hasn’t decided yet; yesterday I had moved the bedside table into her room before I moved London’s bed and she vehemently declared, “I don’t like THAT!”. So, obviously, Brooklyn is the one who is going to have the largest degree of adjustment, but she will get it.

London loves taking pictures. Brooklyn, not so much.

I’m praying that each night gets easier for them, and for some sort of solution to the nap debacle. Currently I can just lay London down in her old room, but that won’t work when we move.

Reason #389 why having a sister rocks: you don’t have to sleep alone.

Two more months!


 

We stopped by the house this weekend to check progress.

We have a sliding glass door.

Windows.

A bathtub.

And our front door is installed!

All the electrical stuff is wired, and the roof tiles are perched on the roof, waiting to be installed, but other than that it looks pretty much the same. The only huge difference we noticed is that 4 other houses on our street that were just foundations are now at the same spot that ours is at, even though our house was started first. I’m guessing they just like to get them all to the same spot and then move forward from there. We should be getting a call any day now to do a prelimenary walkthrough before they put up drywall, and then after that it will be about 6 weeks until completion! So, at the very latest, we should be in by the beginning of February. Not very long now!

This is the window in the schoolroom. The schoolroom is at the very front of the house, and is the largest of the bedrooms. We thought about putting the girls in this room, but we didn’t like the idea of their bedroom having a window that was accessible from the street.

Jackson answering the front door, lol! He looks so grown up in this picture!

I probably should start cleaning and packing, but I’m a bit overwhelmed and not sure where to start. This weekend we are moving the two girls together into one bedroom. I figured that I’d rather get them accustomed to sharing a bedroom now rather than the night that we move into the new house. Once they are in one room, we will have London’s old room completely open to store packed boxes in. We need to repaint Jackson and London’s room back to their original colors, which will be a huge task.

I think I’ll just start with the junk drawer in the kitchen. 🙂

A Meaningful Christmas

So, for many moons now, I’ve wanted to do some sort of advent countdown with the children that was more than just opening a door and retrieving candy. We try very, very hard to make sure that our children understand the real reason for the holiday. It isn’t about presents, Santa, or some creepy looking Elf hanging out on the shelf (someone will really have to explain that whole thing to me…I just don’t get it, lol! WHY would I create more work for myself with this thing?). It’s celebrating the birth of Christ, God becoming man, the covenant fulfilled, the birth of Light into a world of darkness. Our children know all of this, but I wanted a way to bring these truths to their hearts daily in a way that they were excited about.

A few months ago, I found A Meaningful Christmas. Its a 24 day devotional made specifically for children, starting with the creation of the world and ending with Christ. There is a symbolic ornament for each day to go with the devotional. Now, here is one of the best parts.

You chose 23 girlfriends.

You assign an ornament to each of them.

You have a party.

With 23 of your girlfriends.

(Did you get that? A party. With 23 friends. Joy.)

You all swap the ornaments you’ve created, meaning that you come home with a full set of ornaments to go along with your devotions!

Would you like to see them? (Of course you do.)

{Day 1-Day 5}

{Day 6-Day 10}

 

{Day 11-Day 18} I didn’t get a picture of Day 12

{Day 19-Day 24}

Aren’t these just fabulous? So, as I mentioned earlier, each day has a devotion focused on some part of the great story of the world. Each of the girls took that devotion and came up with an ornament to symbolize the truths taught in their particular day.

At our party, we had yummy treats.

Basically, it was like Thanksgiving all over again.

{minus anything remotely healthy. wait! i see broccoli! but i didn’t eat that. i think i ate a bell pepper strip, but i dunked it in ranch, therefore it doesn’t count.}

We took the time to have everyone explain why they chose the design they did, and had each person share one Christmas tradition that they already do in their families. It was awesome to hear some of the things everyone does, and I think we all got some really great ideas!

I could NOT have done it without these girls! I knew I wanted to do this, but there is no way I could have pulled this off myself. Best friends rock.

{Jeannie, Christine, Hitomi, Me, Sarita}

The only sad part about the evening is the fact that once you do it, you don’t get to repeat it! We all had such a wonderful time!

So, if you are interested in doing a party next year, check out A Meaningful Christmas by clicking {here}.

Fa la la la la, la la la la!