Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas-ing, Part 1

The Christmas season is upon us and we had with a busy weekend last weekend beginning with our small group Christmas party. We enjoyed lots of laughs during our annual white elephant exchange. Our small group is so very important to us - these dear people are like family at this point and we have all been through so much together. We love being able to celebrate this time of year with them and we look forward to growing old and gray together as long as they will continue to have us.
Saturday night we went to the Jen extended family party at my parents' house. Here is my Grandma and her 14 great-grandchildren...the newest one is 4 days old in this picture and there is one more coming soon (my cousin and her husband are looking forward to picking up their daughter from China sometime early next year).
This is always a busy time of the year for us and we are trying to be intentional this year about slowing down and remembering what Christmas is really all about. We have been opening a different Christmas book with the kids for the 12 days of Christmas and it's been a great activity with the kids - it allows us to slow down at least for a few moments each day and talk about the Christmas story with Dylan and Ella. We will be delivering some Christmas gifts to a needy family later this week as well with our small group, and we tried to involve the kids in picking out gifts from the Samaritan's Purse gift catalog (Dylan picked baby chicks, Ella picked dairy animals and Mady picked feed a hungry baby for a week :) )

What ways is your family celebrating Jesus this Christmas season?

Friday, December 4, 2009

how's it going?

Everyone seems to want to know how it's going with three. The short answer is, "it's going!" I guess it's about how I expected it to be - a little busier of course but I do feel like things are somewhat under control...I have also realized lately that I have very low expectations so it's hard to be disappointed :) If we all survive the day in one piece, that's what I call a good day!

I know some people think going from one to two kids is the harder transition and others think it's when you go from two to three. At this point, I'm going to side with the one to two kids people. It's hard to go to the grocery store with three kids, but a lot of times it was hard to go with two...we stay in a lot with three, but we were staying in a lot with's a little chaotic at times with three, but it was chaotic with two. Also, I think I feel more "seasoned" this time around. With your second child, you get thrown off at first because the second one doesn't behave the way the first one did. With the third, I feel like I already know that...I fully expect Mady to be different than the first two and if there are any similarities I just see that as a bonus because my parenting experience might actually come in handy :)

The kids are adjusting as well. We are trying to be intentional about giving them all individual attention throughout the day. Dylan is pretty laid back but he still needs that one-on-one time especially during the afternoon while Ella and Mady are sleeping. His sisters get a lot of attention for being little and cute and we want to make sure Dylan knows how special and loved he is and how much we enjoy his little "boy-ness".

Ella loves her baby sister but I know it's been a harder transition for her because she's no longer the baby or the only girl...and did I mention that she's THREE? She's been extra clingy and emotional and a bit of a mama's girl which is funny because she's usually very independent but I know it's her way of reaching out for extra love and attention.

Mady is a very sweet little baby. She's a cuddler and I keep telling Matt that I've never felt so loved by a baby before. The other kids weren't really cuddlers but Mady loves to snuggle and seems so appreciative when you pick her up and hold her in your arms. Matt and I are really enjoying her in the evenings after the other two are in bed and we can relax and wonder at our little one.

All in all, our hearts are bursting with love for these three kiddos. We feel complete now as a family (which is kind of a shame because we make really cute babies ;) ) and we look forward to continuing to watch them all grow.

first snow!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mady Mae

My friend Mindy was very kind and came to our house and took pictures of 4-day-old Mady last Saturday. Mindy just posted her blog post and I had to share a few of my favorites (for the rest of the blog post, click here). I don't have professional pictures of my other kids when they were this new, so these photos are really special - they capture Mady's curled up, sleepy little newborn self. We are head over heels in love with this baby girl!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

introducing Madelyn Mae!

On Tuesday, November 17 at 7:45pm we welcomed little Madelyn Mae into our family. She was 7 pounds, 13 ounces, 19 inches long and she has lots of dark hair and beautiful dark eyes. She let out two little cries after she was born and then started looking around, trying to take it all in. When they set her on my chest, she just looked up and stared at me for the longest time...details of her birth that I will always remember. We are all quite smitten with our Mady. We were blessed with a smooth labor and delivery and everyone is adjusting well to having a new family member. So far she is a good baby and she's eating and sleeping well. She loves to cuddle and she already loves her pacifier :) I can't wait to see who this little baby grows up to be!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chad & Katie

I wanted to take a minute and show you all how ridiculously good-looking/cute/photogenic my brother-in-law and my soon-to-be sister-in-law are. They just had their engagement photos taken by my very talented pal Mindy (for more, if you can stand all the cuteness, click here).
We love these two so much and Matt and I are very honored to be standing up for them in their wedding as their Best Man and Matron of Honor. July can't get here soon enough!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

birthdays, part II

We had our second birthday party this afternoon at our house with the Jen side of the family. My friend Tiece made these awesome cupcakes - I love the way they turned out! Dylan loves his new Thomas track and trains and Ella has some more play food to add to her kitchen (love the Melissa & Doug wooden play food).

Matt was also able to get out with the guys on Friday night. His brother and friends planned a little surprise night out - my only job was to act like I was excited for him to go out with the guys and leave me home with the kids :) I was trying to act casual about it after his friend called but I think he repeated at least three times, "Let me get this want go out with the guys...on a Friday night...when you're nine months pregnant...and leave YOU home with the kids??" Somehow he managed to pick himself up off the floor and went out and had a great time :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

birthdays, part I

The November Birthday Bonanza has begun! We had our first b-day party last night at Matt's parents' house. Next Monday is Matt's 30th birthday, Thursday is Ella's 3rd birthday, and Friday is Dylan's 5th birthday. We are trying to fit the parties in a little early in case Baby Girl decides to make an appearance soon. The kids are pretty easy to please at this age - Dylan loved his guitar, new cars, bowling set and car book and Ella was very pleased with her new chair, wooden cookie set, and tutu. It feels a bit like Christmas with so much present opening going on at once - it's weird to imagine families who only celebrating one birthday at a time :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

fall photos '09

My friend Mindy took the kids' pictures a couple of weeks ago. She has been at this professional photography thing for about a year now (we were one of her first clients last fall). She just blogged about the session - click here to see her post and more photos.

I usually dread professional pictures with the kids (the outfit picking out, the hair doing, the child coercing, etc.) but Mindy makes it pretty enjoyable all around and I love the results. By the time we were done, the kids were covered in mud and...HAPPY...that's a successful photo shoot if you ask me!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween!

We had a great Halloween this year - pretty laid back and the kids had a blast so I guess that's the whole point! Dylan LOVED being a race car driver and Ella was adorable in her monkey costume (a hand me down from Dylan...sorry second child...maybe next year we'll let you be a princess!)

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Ella has been going to gymnastics for the last few weeks. I know she's young and it's a little unnecessary, but it's been really fun for her and I figure I should take advantage of the "free time" we have now that Dylan is in school. She is starting to really get the hang of it and it's really funny to watch her interact with the other kids and learn new things. Today was her first day in her little leotard...isn't she cute? :)

Ella's room!

The girliness is complete. Here's Ella's big girl room for anyone who is interested. I was able to keep her original paint color and curtains as well as her bookcase and animal pictures (above the bed) - the bed and dresser and bedspread are new. Hopefully this will be a room that can grow with her as she gets bigger.

i [heart] shopping

My favorite shopping buddies: Pam, Michelle, Yesenia and my mom - pre-shopping photo from our annual Birch Run trip (and my pregnant belly for anyone who hasn't seen me in the past 6 months).

the gene pool

People often look at Ella and then look at me and then ask some version of, "How on earth did you end up with a child how looks like that?" Thought I would provide a little photo evidence...apparently the answer is "recessive genes." The first picture is my mom's baby picture and the second is Ella's.

And a little bit more cuteness just for good measure...the boy cousins (and Pa) and the girl cousins - Ella and Lucy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

David Crowder Band

We went and saw these characters below on Saturday night along with our friends Derk and Bethany and pal Curt. Crazy hair, but good stuff. Bonus points if you can pick us out of the photo on the bottom (to be honest, I can really only see Curt and Tall Sweaty Enthusiastic Guy who was sitting next to me...and I don't mean Matt.)

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

[As performed by David Crowder Band, written by John Mark McMillan]

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Happy Fall!

The leaves have started to fall and our kids had a blast playing in them today. Matt spends quite a bit of time in the fall keeping the yard cleaned up, but all that hard work is worth it - we love our house and our yard because of all the tress, especially in the fall.

Isn't fall magnificent this year? God really knows what He's doing, doesn't He? :)

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