Happy New Year

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know it’s April.  But, at least I’m in 2017 now!

Our New Year was a little low key.  The day before we had a couple of random sickies which canceled our plans to hang out with our church family.  As a result, we were awake, refreshed and alert in church the next day.  Per Ukrainian tradition, the kids received small gifts and then we enjoyed fireworks with neighbors in the evening.

I finally got Clue!  Ya’ll, I have wanted the game Clue since I was a little girl.  This year, I watched the Black Friday sales and grabbed it up.  Mark wrapped it and put it under the tree for me!  Yes.  He did.

The world’s worst photo but we gave it what we could.  Our dear friends from across the street came over and watched Mark put on a show.  We do it early enough so the littles can get rest.  This was special for us because our neighbors moved away at the end of the month.  Still hard knowing that we can’t just skip across the street for a chat.

Merry Christmas 2016

We had a different Christmas gift tradition we started this year.  Still not sure we’ll do it every year, but it worked for this year.  We chose to give the kids experiences instead of more stuff.  Ya’ll, we have a ton of stuff.  A ton!  They really don’t need stuff.  So, after lots of brainstorming, we decided to take a trip to a homeschool conference where their current favorite author (who just happens to be one of my most favorite musician/artist/songwriter) as well as a trip to The Ark Encounter and Creation Museum.
Lining up to go to the Sibling Shop.  The kids draw names and then “shop” in the goodies available for that sibling.

All the kids gathered together to hear What God Wants for Christmas. Okay, we did get them a few small things and some stocking gifts (which are dvds or audio cds).
Tot got some fun ears. Trying to figure out where they were going.

See, I was there too!


Still in December.  It worked out perfectly to spend time at Ge and Granddaddy’s house celebrating Christmas and December  birthdays the week Emmie had her MRI and appointment with her neurosurgeon. We even got some good visiting time with Uncle J and Aunt Yaya and family. Present time is always exciting. Oh man, I don’t know if Emmie is excited about another baby or not. 😉

Aunt Yaya’s family was in-between houses during Christmas, so I made up a fun gift for the niece and nephew.  Lots of fun goodies tucked in there.  I know they are old teenagers but they can still have fun.  I’m pretty certain I win the Crazy-Old-Aunt Award.

Double piggies…this girl!

Granddaddy’s hat is always fun to try on.

There is a Lego store just down from where Ge and Granddaddy live.  A big one!  We took the kids there the day before MRI day and we all had a blast.

You can create your own mini-figures.  So, I made one of Emmie’s neurologist and one of her neurosurgeon.  Next time we go, I’ll have to actually make them and buy them for the docs! Emmie loved this little table. Drawers ya’ll.  Drawers full of Lego bricks everywhere!  


Family Time

Thanksgiving weekend was spent with Ge and Granddaddy.  Always a blast.  Especially when we can watch Alabama beat Auburn! Ace exploded sticks-a gift from Aunt Yaya and Uncle J. We went downtown (before the game, of course), to celebrate Small Business Saturday.  Bryant loved his birthday gift from Aunt Yaya and Uncle J. Emmie was ready for the game.

Silas enjoyed Steak n’ Shake this time.

Looking Like Christmas

We tried to make the most of our Christmas but I would be lying to say there wasn’t a constant nagging that someone was missing.  There were lots of prayers throughout our festivities and we managed to have fun and make memories.  Thankfully, we had some dear friends who were in Y’s country and they arranged to have a gift mailed to our brave one while we wait.

DSC_4029 A fun time at the lights.IMG_20151225_062535582The kids finally realized that they could get up early this year and wake us up too.  And so they did.  When we get up, we read the Christmas story before heading downstairs to open gifts.DSC_4352 Already for Christmas!  This year was the first year since the kids were really little that we actually wrapped presents before Christmas Eve.  It was fun watching the kids try to figure out what they were getting.  Then again, Frodo the Cat ruined the surprises by opening up a couple of gifts.  DSC_4356 She knows where her gifts are!DSC_4357 Traditional picture in front of the tree.  Malachi has a matching shirt but it “was too big.”  We pick our battles around here.DSC_4367 Burying the Malachi in presents.DSC_4374 He broke free.DSC_4380 DSC_4386 DSC_4397 DSC_4401 A box.  Woo-hooDSC_4408 DSC_4411 DSC_4412 Fuzzy blanketsDSC_4414 DSC_4417 And something for Bitty Baby to ride in.
DSC_4433 DSC_4442 This wasn’t really a gift.  Our mixer that we have had since we were married started to go bad.  We had a friend who was able to fix it, but we started talking about the need for a larger mixer.  The holiday deals meant we could get a larger mixer for less than one like what we already had.  It’s proven to be a wise investment.
DSC_4448 Mark decided a few years ago that he wanted to get me something every year that we could add to.  He knows I love nativity/creche sets and so he researched.  After some time, he settled upon the Fonatanini sets.  I received Mary, Joseph and Jesus and then the wisemen (an inside joke on why they had to be second), he told me they needed some shelter.  I look forward to these each year.DSC_4459 After all the gifts and a yummy brunch, Mark needed a nap.DSC_4461

Even Frodo the Cat got a gift.


He also enjoyed the kids’ gift.

Christmas Visit

We love having birthdays and Christmas all rolled in to one month.  No, really, we do.  It means we get to visit more with family!

Papa and Grandmere came down before Christmas to celebrate Zoe and Liam’s birthdays.  They got the added bonus of participating in some of our Christmas traditions.DSC_4302 Dipping pretzels. And opening gifts.DSC_4318 DSC_4328 DSC_4330 DSC_4332


And goofing around with Papa.

To Granddaddy’s House We Go

Before Christmas, we were able to make a run to Ge and Granddaddy’s house that didn’t include a trip to appointments for Emmie!  Yay!  DSC_4197 We also celebrated our December birthdays with them and enjoyed cake.DSC_4200

This was a couple of days before we officially had a teenager in the house.

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DSC_4205 DSC_4221 Candid moments before the gift opening began.  Ge had a great idea this year that we would watch everyone open their gifts.  It was perfect because usually all any of us see is paper flying everywhere.DSC_4268 This time we were able to get pictures.DSC_4266 DSC_4264 Seriously, most appropriate shirt for our Liam!DSC_4257 DSC_4251 DSC_4243 DSC_4237

My boys are super happy about Lego!

The most anticipated reaction from all of us was when Emmie opened her gift from Ge and Granddaddy.  I have to say that she did not disappoint at all.

Emmie Meets Bitty Baby pt 1 from justabunchofcharacters on Vimeo.

VID_20151219_131528021 from justabunchofcharacters on Vimeo.

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We absolutely love spending time with our family!

The Perfect Tree

IMG_20151127_132358283_HDR We’re those crazy people you see with the tree on top of their 12 passenger van.  Oh yes.  We are those people.


We loved the tree farm we went to for a couple of years but when we saw a different tree farm advertised and the prices they were promoting.  Well, we had to go.  The selection was not wonderful but I almost convinced Mark to get a 12 foot tree for $30.  So, the price was just right.  The people that ran the farm were super nice too.

While we didn’t get a 12 foot tree, we got the next largest.


It was so big ya’ll!


We put the tree in our two story entryway so we have room.  Mark, however, had to do some trimming on the bottom and the big tree wound up being a good size but not too large.


It was full of holes.  Bare on the bottom.  Not perfect by any one’s eyes.  But when we put it up and threw our memories on it…well, it was just perfect for us.


Our decoration was slow.  I was lagging the whole season as the reality that Y was not going to be home by Christmas sunk in.  And then we were creeping closer and closer to Emmie’s appointment to discuss surgery.    But we had some really precious moments…


Emmie had to stare at the nativity (that my grandmother had painted a lot of years ago).  She loved pointing to Jesus and saying, “Baby.”  Those precious moments helped my sad heart to make it through the season.