Christmas Candy Tradition

I guess if we do something two years in a row, it should be considered a tradition.  We were so super busy getting things ready for Y that we didn't get a chance to do our big baking days. But, we did set aside one morning to get pretzels dipped in almond bark.

We didn't get to share these with anyone because when I stepped away for a split second, I returned to discover several faces smeared with almond bark and fingers in mouths.  Those puppies belonged to the family after that.

Happy 12th Birthday Zoe!

Eek!  I have an almost teenager.  I can't believe how fast the years have flown by.   Honestly, Zoe has been such a blessing to our family and continues to be so.  Sure, we have some fun, hormonal pre-teen issues but the good far outweighs the bad moments.  She is growing in to such a beautiful young lady and is a delight to her brothers and sisters and mom and dad too.  I can't wait for the teenage years and to continue to see her grow in the Lord.

We celebrated as a family before Y came.  It was her choice and I'm glad we did so.  We were actually out of town on her birthday and traveling back home that day as well (after only getting a few hours least for Mark and I).  She chose to go to a frozen yogurt place as her "activity" to celebrate 12 years of surviving our fam. Good choice and we all enjoyed our yogurt so much I forgot to get a picture.

 I love that my kids were intrigued by her gift.  Adams' Chronological Chart of History, from Papa and Grandmere.  It was so fun watching all of them gather around it to read and look at the pictures!

Zoe decided last year that she wanted to get her ears pierced for her 12th birthday.  She was as excited as Zoe gets about things like that (the pain and all).  So, the Friday before her birthday we headed to the mall for the piercings.  
Before (see the look of utter excitement)

During (yeah, that was the first ear and after it, I think she considered being done but realized the asymmetry wasn't going to work).

After!  The pain didn't last long.  It's been almost six weeks and I'm so impressed with how well she has cared for her ears.  I, um, was not like that which is why I let them grow in.  Twice.  She's just now been able to take them out and has told me, per her instructions (she was so excited to have them in writing) that she has to wear earrings for six months 24/7.  When she missed an ear cleaning (because, per the instructions it must be done three times a day), I think she had a mini panic attack.  She's getting braces at the end of February.  This should be fun.

 Yay!  Earrings from Ge and Granddaddy!
 And fun crafts from Aunt Yaya and Uncle J.

Zoe scoured my pinterest pages and landed on this beauty for her birthday cake. Red Velvet Cheesecake with Cream Cheese Icing.  I was scared ya'll.  You see, when I was a kid, my mom attempted a red velvet cake.  Several times.  It was crumbs.  Lots and lots of crumbs over and over again.  I ate red velvet cake crumbs until I was sick (they tasted really good even it never was a whole cake).  So, a red velvet cake from scratch had me so scared.  I did it though!  And oh was heavenly good!

Hosting Starts!

December flew by and before we knew it, it was December 17th and Y was here.
 The flight had landed and all the families waiting on their host child gathered together for a group picture!
 The flight got in at 10:30 at night.  Poor Emmie had to go since I am her food source.  She was so sleepy but did so well.

 Everyone from Liam down to Malachi had a spend the night party at Kristina's house (and thereby earning her about 1,000 jewels for her crown).  Zoe and Ace made the trek to the airport to pick up Y.  Ace was as excited and anxious as we were.

 Zoe tracking Y's flight in.
Mark and I love the airport.  It's like a mini-world with all sorts of interesting people to see and things to look at.  This lady was no exception.  She had on elf leggings and hat, a hula skirt and coconut bra.  And I do believe she had a lit up necklace too.  I believe several people had stopped and watched and waited to see who in the world she had dressed up for.  It did not disappoint as a lady about her age with two adorable young girls were met to this get up as she sang "Mele Kalikimaka."  The little girls lit up as soon as they saw her and ran up and gave her the biggest hugs.  Definitely not a disappointment to watch.

And before we knew it Y was with us.  He was so tiny, ya'll.  He's just a few weeks younger than Liam but with all the older kids with him, he looked so small and alone.  We grabbed him and hugged him but he didn't light up with a big ol' smile until he saw Emmie! 

 He grabbed her up as quick as he could and then quickly pulled out the letter we had written him and pointed to her picture and each of ours.  He was so excited.
And he had to push the stroller.

It's safe to say that everyone except Mark and I slept soundly on the way home.  Y had been traveling a full 24 hours.  We had to wake him up the next day!


Within the next two years four of our pastor's seven children will be wed!  One of the neatest parts of being a part of a small church is that everyone is friends with and knows the pastor and his family.  We were so excited to get to dress up and be a part of one of the wedding celebrations in December (unfortunately, we had to miss the first of the four weddings).  It was a very personal and sweet ceremony that honored Jesus above all else.  

 Zoe has figured out how to trick her hair to get a few waves and curls (the secret is a wrapping damp hair in a bun all day long, fyi).
 Emmie decided the ceremony wasn't her cup of tea and wanted Daddy to walk her in the foyer.  Much better.

 My boys think a wedding is okay but what they most look forward to is the reception.  Especially buffet receptions.  But waiting until the buffet is open...That's really hard.

 Weddings bring sweet reunions too.  Some former members of our church drove in and that meant instant friend time for Ceili Rain, A and C as they joined together and played at the reception.  We miss C and her family dearly and pray one day they can move back in to the area!
 Okay, Bryant got in on the hugs and reunion too.

I wanted a family picture and this was the best we got.  Oh,  well.  Tracy got some really good ones while Y was here and I'll share those soon.

Getting Fit-A Myth and Excuse

While our Y was here I hit another small goal!  40 pounds gone since July.  If you want to get technical, I've actually lost 60 pounds since Emmie was born (okay more around 70).  Here's some pictures to give you a visual!

 At 10 pounds lost

 30 pounds lost

And 40!!  I fit comfortably in size 10s (okay some are getting loose) and my medium tops are starting to get baggy too.  

After this month, I'll drop Weight Watchers (while Y was here I wasn't really keeping up with my points any way) and start on Trim Healthy Mama.  Mark has a bit of weight to drop and I'm sure with a bit more proper diet he'll drop it really fast.  I still fifteen more pounds to go but I think that it should continue to come off steadily as long as I stick to good nutrition and exercise.  I feel fantastic!  I can run after the kids and throw them in the air and ya'll...there is no more wings flapping after I stop waving!
So, I wanted to address a couple of myths that I've heard over the years.

1.  It's easy to lose weight when you are chasing after small children all day.
Um, yeah.  Ya'll saw that before picture right?!  Just because I have small children does not mean I am burning off the excess amount of calories and fat my body has stored.  Proper nutrition is so key in losing weight.  When I first started Weight Watchers, I had lots of points left over at the end of the day and would have to force myself to eat appropriate foods to get enough points (and calories) to end the day well.  I gradually learned that skipping a meal on a regular basis because I was tending to a baby was actually detrimental to losing weight (especially since I would fill up those hunger pains with junk food or sugar).  Losing weight and eating well takes planning and forethought and won't just "happen" because I have a lot of kids.  I've also learned recently that as you age your metabolism slows down.  Another reason for the mummy tummy that has stuck around and expanded over the course of my toddler years.

2.  I would just wait until I was done having kids.  It'll be easier then.
Nope.  Since we aren't sure if we are done having kids and I waited until then...well, I would have been grotesquely obese.  Not a place I want to be or go to.  I have been carrying around the extra weight from seven pregnancies (I had gall bladder surgery a month after Zoe was born...that and no foods for three days got me down to my pre-pregnancy size really quickly).  Let's just all think about that picture.  My ob gives a nine month grace period...he says, "It takes nine months to put that weight on.  Give yourself nine months to get it off."  Unfortunately, for six post-babies, I believed the lie that I should just wait until I was done having kids.  So, I fully expected it to take me a year to get off all the excess weight that I have been carrying from each pregnancy.  I'm so ecstatic that it has only taken me six months to get down to the pre-pregnancy weight I was at with Josiah and Liam.  I need to be healthy to have healthy pregnancies and adding extra weight with each pregnancy is not the way to do that.

Now to lose the next fifteen to be at a wonderful healthy weight!

Falling in Love with a Picture

At the end of October, our family fell in love with a picture.  Yes, I know it sounds crazy and insane.  But living in the midst of it, well, it's true.  You see, at the end of October, we decided to participate in an international hosting program with New Horizons for Children.  Mark and I scoured the photo listings and narrowed the children we felt our family would be a good fit for, to three.  We showed the kids the three children and discussed the information about each and they all unanimously wanted this one eight year old boy with a sweet smile.  They wanted him to come to our home for four weeks this winter.  After that, it was all over.  We knew very little but we all knew one thing...the more we looked at his picture and prayed for him, the more we loved him.

He's here now and in just a short two and half weeks we'll say our good byes to a child who has captured our hearts and become one of us.  One of our people.  Over the next month, I'll not only share about our international hosting but also about our crazy busy wouldn't change it for anything December.

But for now, I am soaking in every minute we get with this amazing kid.  And for now, meet Y.

These people...

These people are my people.  They were my first people and every time I look at this picture of the four of us, I get those warm fuzzy happy feelings.  This year has not been without its challenges and trials.  These people know that.  And more than that, they have stood by, between, and for us during each of those trials and uncertainties.  I am so blessed to call these people mine.  They are amazing and have such love for my family and I for them.  I don't think I can ever thank them enough for all they have done for us in just this year alone.  So, all I can really say is, "Thank you."

And show our true colors...
 Now we know who the real serious ones are and the, um, crazies!