Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Here's our Christmas/New Year's letter that we just mailed out:

Dear Friends & Family,

It’s hard to believe that this year has finally come to a close. It has been a year full of blessings and heart ache. As many of you know, 2010 began with us carrying our fourth baby knowing that he was going to die. The months leading up to his birth were hard, but we tried to be as purposeful as possible to enjoy the little time we had with our baby. Noah Tobias (“Take Comfort, God is Good”) was stillborn at 31 weeks on April 15, 2010. We grieved and still grieve his loss. We will carry him in our hearts forever.

Four months after losing Noah, we learned that God had decided to bless us again. Our fourth little boy is expected to arrive sometime around April 1, 2011, hopefully to be delivered at home by a mid-wife.

The rest of the family is doing well. Livvy just turned six and loves being homeschooled in first grade. She enjoys math, reading and especially loves our co-op Discovery Day. Being goofy, getting dirty, and helping out with her brothers are her favorite past-times. She’s going to be a big help when this baby comes! We love her passionate and yet tender heart.

Sammy is four years old and is an all-around fun and spunky kid. I haven’t done much schooling with him so far, but he is learning a lot through the influence of his big sister and co-op. He loves playing with Livvy and Ben, wrestling with Dad, or being my little worker-man.

Ben is now two years old and is very much a rough and tumble little boy. He loves playing monster trucks with Sammy, but has been known to say, “I in charge.” He can easily ham it up and take center stage, or quietly slip away and get into things that he shouldn’t.

In early November Tom started a new job at a local skilled nursing facility in their rehab gym. He’s enjoying the patients and the lack of stress that came with his previous job. On weekends he’s still plugging away at the house. We’re officially living in the addition and enjoying all of the extra room. It is such a blessing! Tom’s next project is to remodel two small adjoining bedrooms downstairs and convert them into a schoolroom/office. We’re hoping to have that space accessible sometime in the next couple of months. It’ll take some time before everything is completely done, but it’ll be so nice when all the major stuff is finished.

As for me, this year has had lots of ups and downs. I feel like losing Noah has made me stronger and weaker at the same time. I’ve also been challenged during this year of homeschooling. I’m constantly reminding myself not to sweat the small stuff and, above all else, enjoy life with my children while shepherding their hearts toward Christ.

Thank you for all your thoughts, love and prayers over the year – they have carried us. May the Lord bless you, your Christmas and the year to come.

The Cutlips

“Why do you say… "My way is hidden from the LORD, and my just claim is passed over by my God"? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary… Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:27-31

Friday, December 17, 2010

Livvy's Birthday

Somehow without my permission my first and only precious little baby girl keeps growing.  Here's what Olivia Joy looked liked a little over six years ago.  So sweet and small; she fit perfectly into an oversized Christmas stocking.  She truly was an angel of a baby - she nursed well, slept through the night early on, cooed and talked with her big toothless smiles.  Absolutely perfect!

And then Livvy grew and grew.  She's still a very good and fun kid to have around.  She is smart, goofy, a great help with things around the house, and with minding her brothers.  She's tender-hearted and yet stubborn and opinionated at the same time - takes after her father (love you honey...OK, she a bit like me too).  :)

Here's what she looked like a couple of months ago in one of her finer moments after playing outside for a few minutes.  Give the girl some mud and she would swim in it if it was deep enough!

At the end of November Livvy turned six years old.  For her 6th birthday Livvy decided that she wanted a pumpkin cake - to taste like pumpkin and look like a pumpkin. At first I was hoping she'd changed her mind to something else at the last minute, but it ended up being a very fun theme. My mom and I made two different kinds of pumpkin cake batter. One was a chocolate and pumpkin and the other was a pumpkin spice. We made cupcakes out of most of the batter and one small round for the adults. We iced the cupcakes with orange frosting and waited for the kids to come.

I am not one who enjoys coming up with all sorts of kid party activities or little goody bags, etc.  I'd rather not have my kids come home from a party with more candy or little cheap toys, and so I don't like to send kids home from our parties with stuff like that (I know, what a bah-hum-bug-mom).  I have caved to the pressure and sent home goody bags on occasion, but I'd rather not.  So, I usually try to have the kids do something that the kids can eat or dispose of soon afterward.

This year, to go with the pumpkin theme, I left all the cupcakes plain and had the kids decorate their own pumpkins and then stick them in the pumpkin patch (a long tin-foiled covered board edged with Twizzlers and filled with crushed chocolate graham crackers) until it was time to be consumed.  All the kids had a great time putting all sorts of sprinkles and candies on their pumpkins.  It turned out pretty cute if I do say so myself.

For lunch I even had the kids make their own pizzas.  I think everybody enjoyed it, even though deep down I felt slightly guilty for taking the easy way out from doing all the other party stuff that's popular these days to do.  But really, Livvy had the best time just being with her friends, and that's what really matters.  I have to remember that when I'm in the midst of things and getting a little stressed.

So Thankful

After eight years of marriage we finally hosted our very first Thanksgiving.  Tom's parents were visiting from Ohio so we wanted to stay home and have a special time with just us and them.

Hosting Thanksgiving meant that it was my job to make the turkey and all the other key parts of the meal.  I know Mom C would have been more than happy to help me, but I wanted the challenge and was excited about taking it on.  I went to The Pioneer Woman for a tested and approved turkey recipe.  I followed step-by-step instructions on how to make her favorite brine, roasting method and gravy.  I also used her creamy mashed potato recipe.  I also made some cornbread casserole, rolls (those I just heated up), a chocolate pecan pie (Mom C called it a Kentucky Derby Pie), and Mom C made a pumpkin pie.

Everything was so delicious!!  The turkey was actually moist and tender, and very tasty.  Which actually made me nervous - I kept thinking maybe it wasn't done and everybody is going to start puking an hour afterwards.  Thankfully that did not happen, everybody's belly stayed nice and stuffed.
 And the honey got to carve the bird, of course.

To remind us of all the things we have to be thankful for, before we began our meal (inspired by my mom I'm sure) the kids and I came up with a thankful turkey craft for all to participate in.  We made cardboard turkey body and stuck him in a call of clay.  Then we made construction paper feathers glued to popsicle sticks and gave everybody two of them along with a marker.  I had everybody write down things they were thankful for on each of their feathers, share them with the family and then stick them into the turkey's clay body. 

I think it turned out to be a very fun way of reminding us of what Thanksgiving is all about - except that I can hear in years to come all of the "Ughs" coming from the family as we all do to my mom when she tries to break the mold and do something that requires all of us to participate and share.