Monday, December 7, 2009

One more makes seven!

We have added another member to our family. Meet Rosita Grace Herrera....

Rosita, aka Rosie, is a white purebred boxer from Big Mac Boxers outside of Cincinatti, OH. Carlos has been wanting a boxer ever since I met him so we decided to go ahead and add to the chaos of our house. Rosie came home with us on Saturday night and has been getting plenty of love ever since. Annie is totally in love with her and spent most of yesterday with the dog snuggling or playing. Lily and Noah also seem to be some of Rosie's biggest fans. Megan is a bit more standoffish. I think it mainly has to do with the fact that the puppy diverts attention away from her and not so much that she doesn't like dogs.

It's been challenging trying to take care of four kids and a new puppy but we are hanging in there. Last night was tough because Rosie is not a big fan of spending the night in her crate. I believe she woke us up more than any of the kids did as newborns! I know that Carlos and I are both exhausted this morning. I can only hope that in a week we will have her used to her crate and sleeping well.

Rosie is a European Boxer so she will top out at about 85lbs. when she is full grown...big girl. Right now though she is just a bundle of velvet and love.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving and more

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year. We were fortunate enough to spend the day with good friends and it really doesn't get much better than that. We stuffed ourselves and then ate some more. I think I could eat mashed potatoes every day and not get sick of least not the recipe I use.

Noah's first taste of mashed potatoes.

We started off the day like any American family should, we watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I have been watching it on Turkey Day since I was little and I love it every year. I especially love watching Annie and Megan while they watch it. They are just so fascinated with each float/balloon/musical performance. My only complaint is that NBC (the network we watched it on) spent way too much time interviewing stars from their shows. I hope that they don't plan to spend that much time doing it next year or we will be watching on a different network.

Carlos carving the turkey.

The kids modeling the turkey headbands they made!

I spent the rest of the day cooking while the kids spent the day nagging me to death. Isn't that the way it always is? I think I was nagged more over the long weekend than I have been in the last six months! By the time our company left and the kitchen was clean, I was exhausted. I fell into bed and didn't stir until morning.

Speaking of the morning after Thanksgiving....the girls and I spent it doing something to serve others. We rang the bell for the Salvation Army at our local grocery store. Of course, we did get to do it on one of the coldest days of the season yet. I believe it was in the low thirties while the girls and I stood outside full of Christmas cheer. The plan was that the girls would stay with me for an hour and then Carlos would come and pick them up while I finished out the last two hours of the shift. However, they ended up staying with me for two hours! They were so frozen by the time Carlos came to get them. The nice thing was that the gentleman who was going to relieve me showed up early and took over, so we were all able to go home and snuggle under the electric blanket and drink hot chocolate.

We let the girls put up and decorate their tree that afternoon. I put up a tree just for the girls to decorate this year. My hope was that it would keep them from nagging me to death while I decorated "my" tree and they could hang the ornaments where they wanted them. So, if they wanted to hang three ornaments on one branch it was fine. They really enjoyed decorating their tree and I had fun watching them.

I took the kids shopping on Saturday to pick out toys for the toy shop at our church. We were buying for children the same age/gender as our own so it was kind of neat. We will drop the gifts off at church this weekend and they will be set up in a Toy Shop that our church hosts. Families from the community, who are down on their luck and need a bit of help, will get to come and "shop" for gifts for their children in the Toy Shop. I think it's such a great idea. The girls and I will be volunteering in the Toy Shop one morning. I am really trying to find ways for our family to give back this holiday season. We are so blessed and I just want to share some of our blessings with others and teach the kids that there is more to life than what is inside the walls of our cozy home.

I decorated "my" tree on Saturday evening. Annie and Meg still managed to drive me nuts and nag me to death but I survived. I am fairly happy with how it turned out. It looks the same as it does every year. Next year I would like to go with a different tree skirt and ribbon just to change it up a bit. Carlos also put up the outside lights, so now our house is fully ready for the holidays.

We have a busy month coming up. The girls are going to be singing carols at a retirement home this weekend and I get to munch on cookies with my girlfriends during my friend, Leslie's Annual Tea and Cookie Exchange. It's always so much fun. My Dad and Stepmom will be visiting us the following weekend and we have all kinds of fun things to do while they are here. I am sure the month will fly by but I will try to blog a few times to keep you all updated on the happenings in the Herrera house.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

No Pigs Allowed!

I did it. I wasn't going to but I did. My original plan was to not vaccinate my kids with the H1N1 vaccine. I can't cite specific examples of why I felt I didn't want to do it. I just knew I didn't. Then I started hearing news stories about perfectly healthy kids that died from H1N1. I know that the chances are slim that one of my children will die from the flu/swine flu. However, it was keeping me up at night. What if Noah, who is still so young, died because I didn't want to get my kids vaccinated? I wavered back and forth about it for the last two months. One day I was going to go ahead and do it and the next day I swore I wasn't. Finally, last week I decided I was going to go ahead and do it. Only problem was that there wasn't any available! I figured I would just keep calling my pediatrician's office and when it was available we would get it. Sounded like a good plan to me. The only problem was that I kept forgetting to call! Today a friend of mine, who uses the same pediatrician (Thanks Chinelle) let me know that they had the H1N1 mist available. I called the office and sure enough they had it. Of course, they only had about 20 doses available and it was on a first come first serve basis. So, I packed the kids into the car and we sped off to the pediatrician. While driving I said a little prayer that God would watch over my kids and keep them safe from any harmful side effects of the vaccine. I also prayed that God would keep Noah healthy and safe because he was too young to receive the mist and they had no shots available. I put it in God's hands and I trust that he will watch over us. I arrived at the doctor's office and my oldest three received the H1N1 mist. We took out three of the doses left, which means that between our family and a couple other random patients there are about a dozen doses at our pediatrician's office. At the last minute one of the nurses informed me that they had one dose of the preservative free H1N1 shot in the back that we could have for Noah if we wanted. Apparently the little boy who was supposed to receive it ended up with a fever. We took it! It felt like the right thing to do. So, my kids have all received their first dose of the H1N1 vaccine and I think I will sleep a little better.

*I did not write this post in order to start a debate. I understand that not everyone opts to vaccinate their children with the same vaccines or at all. I believe it is a parent's right to do what they feel is right for their child. So, if you decide not to get your children the H1N1 vaccine then I fully support you. If you do get them vaccinated, I support you too. :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cleaning, Christmas and other random thoughts

I just finished cleaning up my oldest two daughters' bedroom. It is not a task I enjoy or look forward to. Mainly because I know it will end with one or more people crying and lots of frustration on my part. My oldest daughter is an extreme packrat. I just know she is going to be on some TV show in the future that will air on TLC or HGTV. Annie is a wonderful young lady and whomever ends up marrying her will be so fortunate. However, I also think about that young man and giggle. He will be living in a house full of stuff. I can only hope that as Annie gets older she will begin to develop some of my organizational zealous and then maybe her stuff can at least be tucked away and out of sight in pretty little bins and boxes. If not....well I don't even want to picture it.

My second oldest daughter is just..... Well, there's really no other way to say it. She can be a bit of a slob. Now don't get me wrong, she doesn't have moldy food or totally gross stuff laying around in her bedroom. It's just that she NEVER cleans anything up! She will sit down to play and then move on to another acitivity without so much as closing a drawer. Eventually, that leads to a horrendous mess. Maybe I am at fault for this. I distinctly remember singing the "Clean Up" song with her when she was younger and she has certainly been told to clean up. Whatever the reason, she just doesn't clean up. I do continue to ask her to clean up but it never ends well. I am hoping it's just a phase and that as she gets older the mess will start to drive her nuts. I'm probably fooling myself.

Anywho....the thing that really drives me nuts is the toys! I threw out umpteen Polly Pocket outfits that were torn in half. I picked up numerous Barbie shoes. I stepped on about a zillion Littlest Pet Shop accessories. The doll clothes were all stuffed back into their basket. The stuffed animals were once again tidied up. Don't even get me started on the My Little Pony stuff! THE TOYS!!!!!

Christmas is around the corner and I am ready to crawl into a hole! I love Christmas! I love the decorating. I love how I can help others. I love my family coming to visit. I love baking. There are plenty of reasons that I love the holiday season. Toys are not one of them. I struggle each year to figure out what to buy the kids. We have three girls so there aren't many girl toys that we don't have some version of. I know that we have two different See-n-Says, a few magnadoodles, more Cabbage Patch Dolls than I can even count and the list goes on. It's just so hard to think of anything original to buy for them. A couple of years ago I resolved that I was only going to buy things that went with toys we already had. I figured if we got Barbie stuff then that was fine because we had a place for the Barbie stuff. If we got Polly Pockets, that was fine because Polly had her own special spot. The problem was that my girls did not need anymore Barbie or Polly Pocket stuff. By New Year's Day they were sick to death of Barbies and Polly Pocket and there was not much else to play with. Last year I thought it would be great to get them toys that they could actually do cool stuff with....a sewing kit, a chemistry kit, an EZ Bake oven, etc... The problem was that all of these toys required that Mom or Dad help or supervise when they were used. What a hassle! I love to hang out with my kids and do fun stuff but I don't have time to play EZ Bake oven every single day and my husband does not want to come home from work and do a chemistry experiment every single night. I guess the key is to strike a balance.

Ok, so I am sorry to have rambled on and on. I suppose my brain is fried from listening to Annie explain to me why it was so important that she keep that huge pile of cut up cardboard box pieces.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween 2009

We had an awesome Halloween! It was so much fun! I spent Friday and Saturday running around like a lunatic getting ready for our Halloween party. It was worth it! The party was a blast! The kids had fun. The adults had fun. Could you ask for more? Here are some great photos....

The kids all dressed up and ready to trick-or-treat!

We had some adults dressed up too! In case you can't tell, we have Billy Mays (the Oxi-Clean guy), a deranged baseball player, an angel, a witch a Woopie Cushion, the swine flu and I am a domestic goddess!


Noah and his buddy, Camden.

Carlos and Noah


Lily, this has to be one of the funniest photos ever!

Lily and Ava ready to head out and trick-or-treat

The Childers family...aren't their costumes amazing?

The day was a huge success as long as you forget the part about baby Camden falling and hitting his head on our fireplace. The shocking thing was how much blood came out of such a small cut! Poor little guy ended up getting his head glued together at the hospital. I think it's actually a cool story...he had his head glued together on his first Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Inspired Craftiness!

I am an avid blog reader. I read all types of blogs. My faves tend to be about home decor and crafty ventures. I don't really consider myself a very crafty individual so many of the ideas I see will never be attempted by me. However, I do occasionally run across an idea that looks like it would be possible for me to do.

Melissa, over at Huckleberry Prairie blogged about the most adorable Halloween Hoedown Wreath and then was nice enough to provide a tutorial. My Mom and I decided to give it a go. Check out our end product!

Isn't it gorgeous? We were thrilled with how they came out. We opted not to go with a Halloween theme so that we could leave it up until after Thanksgiving. We each made one as well as one for my Grandmother and her friend. They were so easy to make and a lot of fun. If you love the look then you should try it for yourself! I promise you will love the results.

I have also seen a lot of bloggers out there grabbing a can of black spray paint and going to town on Halloween decor. I decided to try this trend as well. What do you think?

I scavenged through the woods behind my house to find the perfect sticks, which I then spray painted black. I stuffed them into a vase full of candy corn, tied some ribbons on the branches and covered the whole thing in cobwebs. I also painted "BOO" on my little pumpkins. I am pretty happy with how it turned out. I think that next year I will add some more items to my mantle, but for now it's just fine.

I also painted our street number on a pumpkin in front of our house.

I even tied little black and white gingham ribbon onto all my pumpkin stems and tucked some gourds into my flower box.

I have been having fun! I am already gathering my supply list to tackle some crafty Christmas projects too!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Soggy witches

My Mom and I capped off Fall Break 2009 by taking the kids to trick-or-treat at the Louisville Zoo on Friday. This is an annual tradition. The Louisville Zoo puts on quite a show for the children. The zoo is transformed into The Kingdom of Far Far Away, Oz, Hogwarts Castle, Jurassic Park, Candyland, The Jungle Book, Wonderland, the Carribean and a Fairytale Village. It's very magical and my kids love it! Every September they start asking when we are going to go trick-or-treating at the zoo. I normally try to take them when my Mom is visiting and this year was no exception. I wish I could say we had a marvelous time but then I wouldn't be telling the entire truth. You see, it began to drizzle on our way to the zoo. By the time we arrived it was drizzling a bit harder. I had checked the weather and a steady drizzle was nowhere in the forecast. Sure, they mentioned an occasional shower but that wasn't supposed to occur until later in the evening. So, I made the choice to go ahead with our zoo adventure. I made the wrong choice.

The kids were upset that they had to wear coats over their costumes. As if wearing a coat wasn't bad enough, they had to have their hoods up to keep their heads dry as well. So, basically you could see their legs and that was about it. Certainly makes the money and time spent on their costumes well worth it, huh? Noah didn't even get to wear a costume. He spent the evening riding around in the stroller in a snowsuit with an umbrella held over him or being carried around by me. Yes, it was chilly enough for Noah to need to wear a little fleece snowsuit! In October!

So, we rambled through the zoo gathering candy and trying to stay semi-dry. Lily wasn't so sure about the people in costume but she was digging the candy. I have never seen her walk so fast. She is normally a dawdler but, with the promise of candy at the next stop, she became an Olympic speed walker! We were through all the magical lands and back in the car in forty five minutes flat. I believe that is a new personal record.

We scrambled into the van and took off our soggy outer layers. I blasted the heat and we all patted ourselves on the back for surviving the zoo in the rain. I assumed all would be well. I was, once again, wrong. Megan managed to spill Fun Dip all over her hands, her pants and the backseat about five minutes after leaving the zoo. If you don't already know, Meg has a flair for the dramatic. The way she was carrying on, I assumed she had spilled something horrific all over the place. Candy powder? Seriously? Did that really necessitate ear splitting screams? Apparently it did. I managed to get her calmed down while driving down the interstate but she started up once again when she realized she had to pee. I am a mean Mom. I made her wait until we got home. I was cold. I was wet. I was hungry and I was not stopping to drag my five year old daughter into a gas station bathroom. She could hold it and she did.

All in all it was a memorable experience. I will certainly remember to never go trick-or-treating at the zoo in the rain ever again.

By the way, check out these photos! My Mom is the most awesome Grammy in the world. Each year she dresses up and this year was no exception. She really outdid herself. Lily was a bit freaked out by her costume and kept asking "Gigi (what she calls my Mom)?" over and over again. I guess she was just making sure.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

By the way....

I am sure you are looking for adorable photos of Noah at the pumpkin patch and I am sorry to report that he didn't get to join us. The original plan had been for him to come along, however, he and Carlos spent the day at home resting and trying to get over nasty head colds. Oh well. There is always next year.

Here is an adorable photo of how he spent his day though...

Fall Break

I have been waiting for Fall Break since mid-August and it's finally here! I knew ,that after two months of homeschooling, I would be ready for a bit of a break....the kids too. Traditionally, my Mom always comes to spend Fall Break with us and this year would be no different. Mom arrived on Sunday and we have been on the go ever since.

We went pumpkin picking at Huber's on Monday. The weather was perfect and we had the pumpkin patch all to ourselves. We didn't get to go last year because I was fairly pregnant and large so this was the first year that Lily was able to go and participate. We did take her when she was about eight months old but she was too little to remember.

This year she was old enough to enjoy the entire experience. She wasn't quite sure about the wagon ride out to the pumpkin patch but ended up loving it. She also managed to trip over every pumpkin vine in the patch. Annie and Megan have been pumpkin picking before but this year they were old enough to really enjoy themselves.

The farm where we pick pumpkins, Hubers, has a whole mess of fun activities for the kids. There are tunnel slides, mazes, animals to feed, yummy things to eat and so much more. The girls had such a great time!

We were all pretty worn out by the time we got home. I kept expecting Lily to fall asleep in the car but she never did. Although, she did sleep very well that night....we all did.

Yesterday was a day spent running from place to place. We hit Barnes & Noble first. I was in desperate need of a new planner. I am such an organizer and I couldn't stand that I had things I needed to write in for 2010 but had no place to do it! I always buy the same type of planner because it works perfectly for me and the only place that sells them is Barnes & Noble. I normally avoid going into any bookstore with all of my children in tow because it is always a nightmare. I end up leaving with way more than I intended to purchase and a major headache. My Mom was fantastic and waited in the car with the kids while I ran in to get what I needed! It was wonderful!

We also went to Joann Fabric because we are planning to tackle a little craft project while my Mom is visiting. I will post photos when we are all done. I think the plan is to start work on it tonight! We stopped off at the mall to let the kids play a bit and to grab up a Steelers tee for Noah. The day was finished off with a stop at a brand new Target where my children acted like hooligans. I left there swearing that I never wanted to return. Of course we all know that I couldn't really be serious!

I really wanted to fall into bed at the end of the day but instead I had dinner with some girlfriends and my Mom. We ate at Baxter Station Bar & Grill, which is a funky little place in Louisville. I had seen it written up in Southern Living magazine and really wanted to try it. I was not dissapointed. The food was delish! I had an amazing blackened chicken cobb salad with an avocado dressing...YUM! The best part was the phenomenal peanut butter cake I had for dessert. I brought a bit home with me and finished it off today. I seriously wanted to lick the was that good!

Today has been spent making potato soup, doing laundry and resting a bit. The weather is so terrible...cold and rainy. We have plans to do the same thing tomorrow.

One last photo...note to self: don't expect a great photo when everyone has to stare into the sun!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

This last month....

I have been MIA for most of the month of September. I was so busy that I hardly had time to update my Facebook status, which as most of you know, is a rare occurance. There were several reasons that I did not have an overabundance of free time on my hands....
One reason is that my inlaws were visiting for the month. Yes, a whole month! They live in Colombia (yep, in South America) so when they visit they usually stay for awhile. The norm for their visits is usually two weeks, but this time I was feeling adventurous. Plus, they had not yet met Noah and I wanted them to have time to spend with him. They are only young once (the kids, not the inlaws, although it's true of them too). So, they arrived at the end of August and stayed until the end of September. I wish I could say that we did a bunch of amazing fun things with them, but that's not the case. Mainly, Carlos and his Dad did a zillion and one projects around the house that were way overdue. I now have freshly painted shutters on my house and new screens in all the windows! I also have a tidy and well organized garage with new shelving. We have a new firepit in our backyard and a new lid for our septic tank (gag). The grass has also been well loved and various other items on our "To Do" list are checked off. We also put Carlos's Mom to slackers at our house! She is a fantastic seamstress and we took full advantage of her skills! Carlos has newly hemmed pants and we have various home items that have been repaired. She also made a custom fitted Dorothy costume for Megan to wear this Halloween! All three girls have newly knitted hats, doll clothes, pillows, etc... The list is endless! So, I have been off the computer for most of the month because I was busy making sure our guests/workers were well taken care of. :)

I have also been quite busy with homeschooling. We have a full load each day and it doesn't leave a lot of time for relaxing. I think a lot of it was just getting all the wrinkles ironed out. I am hoping to have a bit more free time now that I am fully familiar with our curriculum and we have gotten into a rhythm. We added a new Bible curriculum this week and I love it! It's more time consuming but it has lots of activities and crafts for the girls to do...they love it too!

I feel we spent a large portion of September running from place to place as well. The girls started American Heritage Girls for the year so we had a bit of work involved with that. Mostly gathering the various bits and pieces for their uniforms and trying to decide what badges we needed to order/work on this year. This year is Megan's first year in the organization and she was pretty excited about that. Annie participated last year but has moved to a new squad this year with other girls in the second grade (last year's squad was full of girls who were a year older than she was). I also had my monthly Bunco fun to attend as well as a yummy Tastefully Simple party.

So, if you throw all that stuff together and mix well, it means you don't have much time to update your blog, respond to emails or even update your Facebook status! Here are some photos of our busy month. Enjoy!

My inlaws relaxing by the firepit.

Carlos cooking hotdogs over our newly built firepit.

Three generations of Herrera men!

Our only, slightly decent, family photo.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

She Did It!

As many of you know, I have been homeschooling my two oldest daughters this year. We have had our ups and downs but overall it has been a great experience. One of my biggest struggles to date has been with Annie and her math lessons. She is just not a lover of math. She is capable of doing it but really dislikes it. I have spent the past two months trying to figure out ways to help her enjoy the world of math. Well, today she took her last test of the first grading period and I was able to figure out her math grade for the first two months of school....she got an A!! The coolest part is that I have been able to see her improve from day to day. She went from dreading her speed drills each day to making a game of trying to beat her time from the day before. I am guessing that math is still not her favorite subject, but at least she is learning and that's all I was hoping for. Now, if I could just figure out a way to take away her extreme dislike for cursive writing.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bread and Warthogs

You may be asking yourself "what do bread and warthogs have to do with anything?". Well, those are two of things that have been keeping me busy these days.

My wonderful husband and I celebrated eight years of marriage in August and we asked for/received a breadmaker. Yes, my husband wanted a breadmaker. It makes perfect combines his love of bread with something electronic. So, I have been busy baking bread! Who would have thought? I love my new breadmaker! Take a look at this beauty....

I have discovered how to make my own cinnamon raisin bread! It's very little work and it tastes divine! I am anxoius to try out another recipe I bread. That just screams Fall, doesn't it?

Warthogs have also played a part in keeping me busy. Last weekend I spent the morning with my baby girl, Lily, at the Louisville Zoo. She and I took a Zoo class together and it was great fun. We learned about how animals move. I think the highlight for her was the craft and getting the chance to pet a snake! Yep, my precious little girl loved touching the snake better than petting the super soft bunny rabbit. Yikes!

After petting various critters and watching two year olds fight over paint daubers, we went on a zoo walk. We managed to see the baby giraffe, the snoozing rhinos and the warthogs. These critters are ALWAYS tucked away and we never get to see them, however, it must have been the cooler temps that brought them out. They are quite unattractive critters but fascinating nonetheless.

I would like to say that I will do better at blogging more often, but that would probably be a bit of a lie. At the present moment I am quite busy. It is honestly hard to find a spare moment. My husband's parents are visiting us from Colombia so we are using all of our free time to enjoy their company. We are also knee deep in homeschooling and that keeps us going from morning until night. So, I will try to do better but I make no promises.

Speaking of the mother-in-law is wicked with a crochet hook. Check out what she is making for the girls! They wanted hats to match their American Girl Doll, Kit. Isn't that cute?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Where has the time gone?

I have officially homeschooled for twenty one days! I had my doubts that I would manage twenty one minutes, let alone twenty one days. There have been great days, not so great days and even worse days. I like to think that I am building memories that my girls will cherish for a lifetime.

The other day, as I was folding laundry, Annie came running into my room full of excitement. There was something on the kitchen window that I just HAD to come and see.

She was right! It was beautiful. I sat on the kitchen floor with my daughters and we watched this butterfly lick up the sugar from someone's sticky popsicle fingerprints. Yes, I noticed that my windows were dirty, but I was more focused on the wonder on my daughters' faces as we watched this butterfly. I wouldn't have this memory to tuck away if I had not made the decision to homeschool.

This morning we woke up to an unusually chilly day. I believe the thermometer read 53 degrees, which is pretty darn cold for August 31st! It was the kind of morning that made you anxious for Fall and long for pumpkins and Halloween decorations. Did my girls have to stay cooped up in the classroom? Nope! We bundled up and headed out for a little walk.

The girls raced their scooters down the street while I pushed Noah in the stroller and had a charming conversation with Lily. I can't think of a more perfect way to start the day.

I realize that homeschooling isn't the right choice for everyone. I never thought it would be the right choice for me. To be honest, I am still not sure how long I will homeschool my children or if I will homeschool all of them. For now, I am enjoying the everyday things I get to do with my kids.