Thursday, December 29, 2011

Noah's Story

I don't know why it has taken me so long, but I finally wrote up a shortened version of Noah's story for Anencephaly.info.  It is a wonderful resource of information - stories, pictures, facts, how to prepare, etc.  Before Noah was born, and even after, I read all the stories of babies born with anencephaly and looked at all the pictures.  Seeing that others had experienced the same thing and many of them praised God during and after gave me a peace and a hope for our future.

I pray that others who might be in the midst of their story might find hope and peace through reading ours.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas

Friday we went down to Phoenix to see family.  The kids got to play with cousins.  Got to see Oma and Opa.  On Saturday morning we opened presents together.  The kids, other than suffering the effects of a minor cold, had a great time.


Last night, after going to the Candlelight Service at Northwest Community with my parents and then going out to eat at Denny's with them, we headed back up the mountain.  It was a nice quiet drive, except for the deep theological discussion that Tom and I were having - good stuff.



Today we had a wonderful quiet Christmas.  It was just us.  At home.  With our kids.  It was nice.

Right now I guess I'm feeling that after Christmas let down.  Not that Christmas let me down, the time was what we had hoped for, but... I'm missing Noah right now.  I want that one more stocking to stuff.  I want those extra presents under the tree.  That one more little body to hug and kiss good night.

Miss you sweet baby boy.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

'Tis The Season

The house is finally quiet again.  Most of the counters have been wiped, rewiped, and wiped again.  The floor has been swept, reswept and really could use a good 'ol mopping (...speaking of mopping the floor, why is it a custom to mop/clean the floor before a party?  The party makes the floor dirty and nobody at the party is looking down at the floor.  From now on, I'll sweep before and mop after.)

Anyway, the season of parties, baking, snowman building, and general festiviness (is that a word) making has been celebrated here at the Cutlips'.  I generally don't like to be busy, but this is a fun busyness. 



We've had structured starts to our morning - we've been reading through The Jesse Tree Advent Daily Devotional.  It's our first time to read through an advent devotional and we're really liking it. 


Our days have been filled with fun activities:

We had a Christmas party for our homeschool co-op.  I really love being apart of the lives of these kids, these families!



We made/baked a variety of different goodies.  Then, the kids and I delivered them to our neighbors.  The best thing about baking this time of year is that you can eat a couple and then give them away!


We used up the last of the halloween candy and the candy from the Flagstaff Light Parade to make a gingerbread house.  Not only is it a fun family activity, it's a great way to get rid of candy in the house!



Yesterday included making and decorating gingerbread cookies with our friends the Ketters to take to the "old people" at Tom's work, friends dropping off their kids for us to watch over-night while they celebrated their anniversary (which brought the total number of kids up to eleven - no problem!), and then at night we had a get-together to put bags of hats, gloves, scarves, and cookies together to take to the local men and women's shelter.  Tomorrow we will go to Tom's work to deliver our decorated gingerbread cookies.  It's pretty special for the kids to see how all these old people are just thrilled to be visited.

We had a great time so far!  And there's so much more to come.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Letter

Just in case you haven't kept up with the blog, here's a short recap of our year. 
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mentionables

This post is an attempt to get caught up before too much more happens and I get further behind, ya know what I mean?


Way back in...well, I can't remember when.  It was before it got cold.  Before the snow.  Maybe September, early September...maybe...  Anyway, we went to Bearizona.  If I recall correctly we had a lot of fun.  The first part of the park you drive through the animals habitats - pretty cool to see a big black bear out your side window.  Then you walk through the rest of the park like a regular zoo.  We got to watch baby bears playing chase, little raccoons romping around...  I highly recommend it.



***


I tried Mealtime Makeover.  It's a great concept for the busy mom who just needs a little help getting dinner on the table.  You pay $15 for three months of meals, all planned out, with a weekly grocery list for that weeks set of meals that is corresponds with sale items.  The grocery list was my favorite part.  Going to the store with an organized list that is guaranteed to include everything you need for that weeks meals is great!  But, I'm really not liking the meals that they plan. We tend to like...I don't know, just not what they like I guess.  I'm not big on casseroles or things with, lets say, Velveeta in them for example.  I'm glad I tried it out - I got some new recipes to choose from and a better idea of how to organize my grocery list.


*** 


My mom bought the book, Large Family Logistics.  It's fantastic!!  I'm not through reading it yet, but I've already picked up many helpful tid bits.  I can't wait to have more time so that I can implement more of her recommendations.  Time, yes, and where might I ask will I find more time?  Maybe when the house is done, after Christmas, before school starts again.  Anyway, reading the book has helped ease my mind during those times when I start stressing about everything that I need to do, would like to do, etc.  It can be done, there is a way.  Press on!


***


When Tom's good friend Lyle came to visit awhile back (I can't remember when that was either, but I remember I did blog about it) he introduced us to a singer named Jamie Soles.  About a month ago I bought his album Good Advice off of iTunes. 

We love it!!!  He takes the Bible and sings about it.  Not only does he sing about this good 'ol Bible history, he then, in the song, makes it applicable to us the listener.  Who woulda thunk you could sing a song about the grumbling Israelites wandering in the desert (a song called Marah) or the Patriarchs of the Bible?   The tunes are catchy, the words are clever, and the message is terrific!


***


Ben likes to sing heavy metal style (he's never heard it, we don't play it, sing it, etc. somehow it's just innate).  Here's one of his most recent songs (so, hear this as a three-year-old yelling at the top of his lungs):

JESUS LOVES ME, 'DIS I KNOW
HE DIED ON DA TROSS FOR AR SINS
DON'T BE 'FRAID, DON'T BE 'FRAID
GOD WISS YOU
ANGELS WISS YOU
DON'T, DON'T, DON'T
DON'T BE 'FRAID

GOOD...I mean, good stuff.


***


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. 

The house is decorated for Christmas.

We're gearing up to start baking Christmas cookies.

Two years ago today we got the worst news of our lives, our unborn baby would never come home with us.  Hard to imagine that it's already been two years.  Hard to imagine that it's only been two years...  Thankfully God filled the day with sweet time with good friends.

Tom went hunting for two weekends in a row and didn't even spot an elk - we're so bummed.  Maybe we'll buy half a cow.  That would good.  I just want a freezer full of good meat so I don't have to shop meat sales at the grocery stores.


Well, that's all I have for now.  All that I can remember at least :).

Friday, December 9, 2011

Jonathan - 8 Months

Yes, it's that time again.  Our little (emphasis on little) guy is now 8 months old.  He's not really doing anything new this month.  He still has not put on much weight and is finicky about food - he's taking after Sammy as a baby.  My hope is that Jon, like Sammy, will turn into a regular eating machine once we're past whatever phase he, Jon, like Sammy, is going through.  Until then, I continue to try to get as much food down him as he will let me and be thankful that he still is growing.

He continues to be a super sweet baby.  Loves to be held close (he holds real still when snuggling cheek-to-cheek), entertained by three very willing children, and give everybody big toothless smiles.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Livvy Turns Seven

Well, technically Livvy's not seven yet.  In approximately seven hours she will be seven.  She was born in the wee hours of a cold November morning back in 2004.  Seems so long ago...and yet not so long.

Today we celebrated her birthday with all her friends.  It was a Little House On The Prairie birthday.  There were 15 children all together (not including the two babies): five boys and the rest girls.  All of her girl friends came dressed in pioneer dresses and bonnets if they had them.  The boys just came in their regular clothes.  Although my boys like the LHOTP, they're not as keen as Livvy and the girls about getting all dressed up and playing "Laura" - no monster trucks or super heros.

The first thing that I had all of them do was make butter for their sweet corn muffins - something that the real Laura would have had to do.


Once their butter was made, everybody sat down and ate their buttered muffins and drank friendship tea (also known as Russian tea).  I had gone to Savers on Veteran's Day and found 19 little glass tea cups for around $.30 each.  They worked out really well and will be great to have on hand for future tea parties. ~I was too busy pouring tea that I didn't get a picture.

Next we played "Pin The Bonnet On Laura". Yesterday I drew a picture of a little prairie girl on an over-sized piece of paper and made little paper bonnets for the kids to stick on Laura's head.  It turned out to be a really fun game.

After Livvy opened some presents, we sung Happy Birthday and cut her cake.  Speaking of the cake, I think it's one of the best cakes I've done so far (not that I've done that many)!  I always have this image in my head of what I want the cake (or whatever artsy thing that I'm working on in the moment) to look like...rarely does it turn out like I want it to.  This time, with some pointers from our neighbor Heidi, it looked so cute!


Once the cake was consumed the real fun began.  The girls headed outside to play "Laura" and the boys grabbed some hammers and...well, we have this old fence on the side of the house that the kids like to pound on. They call it their fort.  The boys did something over there.  Anyway, here are some pictures of the girls:

Grammie made Livvy's prairie outfit and bonnet.  It was so cute!!
Livvy's best friend Sabrina.
Hannah and Sage.


It was a wonderful party for a pretty special little girl.  We love you Livvy!


********


On a side note, Tom's parents got here yesterday.  They'll be staying only a week this time.  We're very excited that they're here!


********


On another side note, Tom finished painting the living room early this afternoon - 12:45pm to be exact (the party started at 1pm).  Tom finished texturing the living room walls and ceiling, and hallway on Friday early morning - around 6:30am to be clearer (yes, Tom pulled an all-nighter).  Bye-bye blue/green/aqua walls!  It's now the light tan that's throughout the rest of the house.  It looks so nice!!  Thank you honey!!


There's still lots of little things to do on the house, but having the living area done is so nice!  I can't wait until I can actually start hanging pictures.  Fun, fun, fun! 



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jonathan - 7 Months

It seems that time is going by faster and faster.  I've heard it said, especially after having kids, that days are long, but the years fly by.  It is sooo true!  Livvy is almost 7 years old and Jonathan is 7 months old (and just because you may have forgotten - Sammy is 5 and Ben is 3).  How did I become the mom of 4 (5) kids?  It's crazy..fun, but still crazy.

Anyway, back to our little Jonathan.  He is still a very happy little baby.  He remains on the small side as far as weight goes (around the 5th percentile), but for length is around the 50th percentile.  He's sitting up very well but is making no attempts to crawl - which is fine with me.  It's nice to put him down and know where he is when I come back.  Soon enough he'll be getting into everything and then I'll really have to be in full-on training mode - I can wait!

For a week and a half he had a spell of not wanting to eat from a spoon - which is especially frustrating and unnerving when you're wanting the kid to put on some weight.  He's pincer grasp isn't quite ready for him to pick up all his food and he's little bowels aren't ready for table food.  I stooped to picking up peas, three at a time, with my fingers, and putting them into his mouth (yes, he'd open his mouth for peas in my fingers but not on a spoon).  Thankfully, about two mornings ago, he woke up and realized that his attempts at being a big boy were a little early and started eating from a spoon again.  Thank you!  Thank you!

Here's our sweet little guy - who I'm very bananas about:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Smile

We have a rule in our house, mainly for the children, "Obey: Right Away, All the Way, With a Happy Heart." 


This sign is posted in our laundry room - the location for most of the disipline that takes place in our home.  It's a nice visual reminder that I can point to when I'm talking to one of the children about how they didn't obey the first time, didn't complete what they were asked to do, and/or whined before or during whatever they were supposed to be doing.

One of the kids, Ben I think, asked me a couple of weeks ago why the heart was smiling in our sign.  I explained to him what I thought was fairly obvious and what I'm sure he would have uunderstood by this point, "The heart is smiling because he's happy.  He's not whining or arguing about what he's doing.  He has/is a happy heart."


I consider myself to be generally a happy person.  I'm not one that gets overly anxious about lifes' little things - at least, I'm not so much anymore.  I feel that my heart, in general, is happy doing life here with these littles.  But is it?  Or at least, does it show?

After Ben's little question about why the heart was smiling I started to make sure I smiled when I was interacting with the kids - even when they were frustrating me or plain old not following the sign.  I was so surprised to discover how unnatural it felt (now, don't get me wrong, I smile at the kids, hug them, etc., but somehow this was different).  I think maybe I saved my smiles for when they did something that was pleasing, when they gave me a card, or first thing in the morning.

I have found that when I smile at the kids when I'm talking to them, asking them to do something, or even trying to get them back on track that they comply quicker and more easily.  They find it easier to be happy too.  We still have lots of work to do on all of our attitudes around here, bad habits are hard to break, but just a simple smile on my face seems to help set the tone for them to smile too. 

Who would have thought?  Well, maybe it's obvious to others, I'm a little slow.  :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Remembering...

Tomorrow is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  I am now forever apart of a community that I never desired to be a part of...those who have lost a baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death.


We remember...

Two years ago we found out that we were expecting baby #4.  As I have said in other posts, I wasn't happy about it.  But God changed my heart and I grew to be.

On December 13th 2009 we learned that our newest member had anencephaly, a terminal neural tube defect of the head.

On April 15, 2010 our littlest Noah Tobias - "Take Comfort, God is Good" - was born sleeping at 31 weeks.

Our family has tied heart-strings to heaven and will always be one less here on earth.








Here's something that others can do, When A Friend Loses A Baby - it means so much!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Homestead

It's been awhile since I've written about and showed what's been happening on our Handy-man-special.  Things are looking SO nice!!  There's still a list of things to do to get a final certificate of occupancy, but we are nearing the end - at least the end to what needs to be done to get the house finished interiorly.  I won't go into the landscaping, gardening, etc. that we'd like to have as well.  One thing at a time.

The last time I posted we were painting the guest bedroom.  Well, it's painted, carpeted, furnished, etc.

 Everything is not fully put away, as you can see with my sewing desk.  But, honestly, I haven't done a lot of sewing lately.  I plan to get back into it...someday.


The next room that has recently been completed is the school room.  I love it!  It's so nice to have school in there - it's amazing what a difference it makes to have a place for everything.  Tom and I both even have our own desks with our own computers (thanks to my wonderful dad - Thanks Dad!!).  We're still looking at getting cork boards for the walls and maybe some kind of art hanging system (I've seen what I think I'm looking for at Ikea years ago...I hope they still have it).  



We hired a guy to come help with some of the finish framing about a month or more ago.  He finished up some built-in bookshelves, hung some doors.  It's all looking really nice!


Like I said, there's still stuff to do.  The living room still needs to be textured and painted, all the windows need sills, and then install baseboard to most of the downstairs. 

It's all coming together.  Wouldn't it be a great gift if it was all done by Christmas (hint, hint - I love you honey, no pressure:>)!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Half A Year

It's that time again.  Jonathan is now 6 months old. 

He can now sit unsupported, though he usually falls over within a minute or two.  He's also figured out how to roll from his belly to his back - though I've never seen him actually do it.  He loves jumping in his Johnny Jumper (we have it hanging in the doorway of the school room) and playing with his sister and brothers.

Here's Jon's 6 month pictures in honor of Sammy's 5th birthday, camo style:

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sammy Turns Five

Even though everybody says it, I'm going to say it...where has time gone?   My little Sammy is now five years old.  How could that be?  Seriously, who turned up the time?

Here's a picture of my sweet baby Sammy five years ago.

And here he is last Saturday at his fifth birthday party.

On the morning of his birthday, first morning of our annual family cabin trip at Ft Tuthill, Sammy fell off his bike and skinned his nose.  Thankfully it was just his nose and he recovered quickly.

We had his birthday party at a little park near the cabin and had all his friends come in camo.  We set up some games in the woods - hunt for the bugs, toss the rings on the antlers, and a rubber band target shoot. 

Sammy and all his friends had a blast!  Happy Birthday to my best little buddy!!