Monday, December 19, 2011

Dissatisfaction...Part 2

Ok, so I didn't quite get around to this post as soon as I had planned. What can I say? I have five kids and it's the holiday season. I think that's enough reason to get a free pass. :)

I talked about how I have been dissatisfied with my home, but there are other areas in my life that I am also dissatisfied with. My kids top the list and that makes me hang my head in shame.

I know it is not uncommon or unheard of to compare your children to other children. In fact, a little comparison can be good. It's nice to observe another child that is close in age to your own child. You may realize that your child is ahead/behind where he/she needs to be developmentaly. I have often observed another child and then realized that my child was not being challenged enough. So, it has helped me to "up my game" so to speak. However, I am not talking about gentle comparisons. I am talking about out and out "I wish my kid were totally different" statements.

I have mentioned before that Lily (my four year old) is the most challenging child I am raising. I am ashamed to admit that not only do I compare her to other children; I also wish she were different nearly every day. I don't simply think that she could improve her manners. I nit-pick and find fault with every little thing she does wrong and wish she were a different child. I cut her no slack and I am very tough on her. I wish I knew why I am that way. I find myself sighing a huge breath of relief when she is tucked into bed. I am so finished with her by the end of the day.

Recently, I even admitted to myself that I don't like her very much most of the time. I don't want you to misunderstand me. I LOVE Lily. I would lay down my life for her. She is my daughter and I would not trade her for anything. However, I have come to realize that most days I don't enjoy spending time with her. I am embarrassed that I feel that way.

I think that with Annie and Megan I can see bits of myself in each of them. It's easy to understand their actions or even enjoy their quirks because of that. I look at Lily and I see very little in common with me. My husband, Carlos, is ADHD and I just know that Lily is as well. I look at Lily and I see all these unexplainable traits and actions. I am guessing that a large chunk of them come from ADHD. Of course, she is a bit too young to diagnose ADHD at this point. I am just making assumptions. I assume that if she is nothing like me, then she must be like my husband. Noah isn't really like me either, but he's a boy so it doesn't seem to irk me as much. Claire is too young for me to say if she shares any or my qualities or not.

So, I have been praying and reading and going over things in my head to try and come up with a solution to this issue. I don't want Lily to grow up and look back on her childhood and simply remember all the times I corrected her or nagged her. I want her to look back and have fond memories of joyous times spent with me. So, what should I do?

I have come to the realization that Lily is Lily. She is who she is. I am her mother and it is my job to appreciate her for the unique child that she is. So what that she doesn't fit the mold of the typical daughter? Yes, she challenges me the most but that probably means that when she grows up she won't take slack from anyone. She will probably go far because she is so determined. She is fearless and has an amazing sense of humor. From now on, I am going to focus on what she is instead of what she isn't. I am simply going to love her for being the wonderful little girl that she is. I am going to stop comparing her to her older sisters, who have always been a bit more conventional.

I figure that if I can get over my dissatisfaction with my house and with my daughter; I will be a happier mother/homemaker. I figure if I am happy then I can accomplish more and live a fuller life. If I am happy then everyone around me will be happy. :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dissatisfaction

I read a lot of blogs in my free time. I escpecially love blogs written by crafty Moms. I enjoy reading about their day to day life as a Mom and also about the neat things they come up with in order to occupy their children or decorate their home. I also enjoy reading blogs about home decor.....not overly fussy home decor but just real living home decor. So, what has my blog reading given me lately?

Well, it's given me a huge sense of dissatisfaction...on many levels! I find myself dissatisfied with my house. There is no reason to be dissatisfied with my house! It's a wonderful house! It's large and fits our family fairly well, although another bedroom would be nice. I know how lucky I am to have my house. There are so many people out there that either don't have a house at all or they are crammed into a house that doesn't fit their needs. It's just that I find myself looking at all these houses in blogland and I start looking around my house and feeling dissatisfied. I look at my living room and it just seems so small. I look at my kitchen and I wish I had nicer countertops. I look at my master bedroom and I think about how I would like it to look more designer-like. I look at my basement/schoolroom/playroom and I wish that I had seperate dedicated rooms for each activity. I look at my kids' rooms and I wish I had more of them and that they were decorated like the bedrooms in catalogs.

I am so foolish. What I should see when looking at my living room is that, while on the small side, it's cozy and is the perfect size to have my kids curl up on the couch with me to hear a story. I should look at my kitchen and see all the happy memories! I love to bake and cook and my kids have spent countless hours doing those things with me in our kitchen with the crummy countertops! I should look at my master bedroom and remember the countless number of times I have rocked a baby to sleep in that very room. Who cares if the rocking chair and the bedding don't match? My sweet babies didn't. I should look at my basement/schoolroom/playroom and think about how nice it is that we even have any extra space for those things. I know lots of Moms who are homeschooling at their kitchen table and tripping over school materials all day long. I am so fortunate that I don't have to do that. I have a spot to store all of that stuff that is out of the way. I have been interrupted countless times, while doing school, by a baby tugging on my pant's leg. That is such a sweet thing. I should look at my three oldest girls crammed into one room and think about how that physical closeness has led to their close relationships. They are one another's best friends. They spend countless hours playing together, which may not have come to pass if they each had their own perfectly decorated room to go off to.

So, I am going to try to stop comparing my house to the houses I see in magazines and in blogland. I am going to try to appreciate the wonderful house that I have. I may paint some rooms, reorganize some items, move some furniture or make other little changes but I will try to love what I have and be grateful for it.

What else am I dissatisfied with? Well, that's another blog post that I will try to get to tomorrow. For now, I am going to go rock my baby to sleep and curl up on the living room couch with my son.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Most asked homeschooling question...

I am always getting asked questions by friends, family and strangers on the street. A lot of them have to do with having a larger family. I hear a lot of "God bless you, because I couldn't do it" and "More power to you honey".

I am also asked a lot of questions about homeschooling. The question I get asked most is "How do you homeschool with children of different ages?". I wish I had a good answer. Really, it depends on what season of life I am in. When I began homeschooling three years ago, I was teaching a 2nd grade and kindergarten. It was tough trying to figure out a schedule that would work for both kids. The second year, it didn't get much easier since I was driving Lily to preschool two mornings a week. If you read my earlier post, you know that we kind of live out in the sticks. So, driving Lily to preschool meant that I had to spend the morning in town while she was in school. That pretty much shot our homeschool day. We tried to do some work in the car while we waited for Lily but more often than not we ran errands and went to parks. By the time we got home, we were all too exhausted to accomplish much else. So, I was basically loosing two full days a week because of Lily attending preschool. This year I opted not to send Lily to preschool. I just couldn't toss away three full days a week (the program for 4yr. olds is 3xweek). I figured I would school her when I schooled Annie and Megan. I think that in itself would have been enough of a challenge, however, I just had a baby in July. So, while I started off our school year with enthusiasm and hope, I soon found myself drowning. Something had to change....

I spent a lot of time praying about what to do. I had good days when I was super woman and I accomplished all of my homeschooling and child rearing tasks. More often than not, I had bad days. Days when I could barely get through needed material with the older two and got nothing done with Lily. Not to mention, Noah who would be plopped down in front of the TV on a regular basis. I contemplated sending Lily to preschool where she attended previously. It's a lovely school with wonderful teachers. My older two girls had gone there and I honestly can't say enough good things about it. However, I was still faced with the problem of loosing three days of my homeschooling week. What would I do? I thought about doing school on Satudays and Sundays and using the days Lily was at preschool as our weekend. The big problem with that was that Carlos would be at work on those days so we wouldn't really get to do much as a family if I went that route. I worried myself sick about what to do.

Finally, I decided I would check into a preschool that was a bit closer to home. You see, when we moved to KY all those years ago, there weren't any preschools in our neck of the woods. Eventually, a few popped up here and there but we always stuck with our tried and true preschool in town. Our neighbor's daughter attends preschool at a local church and has had nothing but good things to say about it, so I gave the director a call last week. It turned out that they had just had a student move away and they had one opening in the 4yr. old class. It was mine if I wanted it! This morning, Lily and I visited the school and met the teachers and director. I was very happy with what I saw. So much so that Lily starts attending there tomorrow! Yikes!

So, for the rest of the school year, I will only be homeschooling my two oldest daughters. Lily will be in good hands and enjoying herself at her new school. I have high hopes that we will accomplish a lot on those three mornings a week that Lily is away at preschool. The nice thing is that this school is five minutes from my house, so I can drop Lily off and buzz home without missing a beat. The school also offers kindergarten through 4th grade and we are planning to send Lily there for kindergarten next year.

I really struggled with this because I had in my head that if I was a "homeschooler" then I had to homeschool all of our children. I have since realized that labels are dumb! I can do whatever I want. So, I am homeschooling my oldest two children, sending my middle child to private school and we will see what the future holds for the younger two. I am feeling a mixture of sadness and excitement today. I am sad to send Lily off to school and away from me. However, I know she will have a wonderful time. Our next door neighbor will be in her class and I will be a better Mommy because I won't be struggling quite so much. I guess in the end you gotta do what you gotta do.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A need to complain...

So far, Carlos and I have managed to avoid the smartphone/iphone craze. We have plugged along with our little flip phones that we have had for numerous years. We can hardly text on them and they only ring about half the time. After much conversation and knashing of teeth we have decided to give in to the craze and get smartphones.

We are a large family and we have to manage our resources carefully so this was not a step that was taken lightly. We researched phones and providers for hours. Since we live in the country, we have to either use AT&T or Tmobile in order to get any service. We went back and forth about what to do and finally decided to give in and order iphones with AT&T.

So, last Wednesday I went online to the AT&T site and ordered our phones along with setting up our plans. I opted to keep our current phone numbers and transfer them over to AT&T from Tmobile (our current provider). I received a confirmation email with an order number and our credit card was charged for the phones. I sat back happy that we would have new iphones in a week or two. Little did I know....

On Thursday, I got an email from AT&T saying that they were having issues transferrig our numbers over from Tmobile and to please visit their website to resolve the issue. I clicked on the link they provided and entered the information they needed. Later that same day I received a phone call from AT&T saying that they were still having problems transfering the numbers. I spent an hour on the phone with a rep trying to resolve this. I hung up and assumed all was solved. Wrong!

On Friday, I tried to check our order status on the AT&T website. The order was not found! What? So, I called AT&T. I spent another hour on the phone with them only to find out the issue with the number transfer was never actually resolved! I decided then and there that we would just get new numbers and put this mess behind us. The rep I spoke to had to transfer me to a different department because she was unable to handle my request. I was on hold forever and then I finally got a rep on the phone who could help me. She was in the middle of reading off my new numbers when she disconnected me! AAAHHH! I waited for a call back. I was sure that the rep wouldn't just leave me hanging when she had my contact info in front of her. Wrong! I suppose she didn't feel like calling me back. So, I called AT&T back again and once again waited forever before I finally got to talk to yet another rep. This rep couldn't even find my order or my account info! I was told that someone would call me on Monday to resolve the issue. So, I passed along my contact info and set up a time for someone to call me.

So, today I waited patiently for someone to call me. I had tried to check our order status on Saturday, Sunday and Monday only to be given the message that the order could not be found. I was really banking on a call from AT&T and a rep who could solve this. I was wrong again! AT&T never bothered to call me. So, I called AT&T. I spent another hour on the phone with no results. I hung up after the rep told me that I could try calling tomorrow to see if the order had processed yet (on the website it says it takes 24 hours for an order to process). Just for kicks I thought I would check with my credit card company to find out how I would go about disputing a charge for these phones if AT&T never shipped them and this issue wasn't resolved soon. Lo and behold when I logged on to check for that info I noticed that AT&T was no longer listed as one of my charges! What?

I can only assume that the entire order has been cancelled. I dread that I will have to call them once again to confirm this. How will they confirm the order is cancelled when they can't even seem to find it in the first place? This has all been such a headache.

I have had bad customer service issues with AT&T in the past but I assumed that was all over and done with. Once again...wrong. I can safely say that I will not be getting an iphone. I refuse to deal with AT&T anymore and it's either them or Verizon for iphones....can't use Verizon out here in the sticks. For now, I am going to stick with my crummy flip phone that hardly functions. This entire mess has left me with a bad taste in my mouth and I need a break!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

City mouse or Country mouse?

We live in the "country". I say that loosely because we can be in downtown Louisville in about 35 minutes. However, we live far enough out that we feel like we live in the country. I would imagine that those who visit us from the "city" do think we live in the country, as they feel as if they are driving out into the middle of nowhere to get to our house. I often go back and forth in my head about whether it would be smarter/more practical to sell our house and move closer to the city.

Today, for instance, I had a minor mishap that made me wish that we lived closer to civilization. I had scheduled an apointment for our dog to be groomed....he is in desperate need of it. I managed to pack up five kids, snacks, the dog and a few other random items that I intended to take care of while we were out and about ( a stop at the library, bank and goodwill). We got loaded into the van and off we went. First stop was the bank to make a deposit. I generally don't mind going to the bank since I can use the drive-thru and not have to drag five kids into the building. So, we got to the bank, made our deposit and then things went wrong. The driver's side window refused to go back up and close! It is 40 degrees outside today and my window was stuck open! I tried everything I could think of to get that darn window to close and nothing worked! I made a quick decision to cancel the dog's appointment and just head home. My babies were cold! Well, since we live out in the country, our drive home was about 15 minutes. I know that doesn't seem like such a long drive, but when you have to drive at 55mph (so other cars don't tailgate you or rear end you) with the windows down on a chilly Fall day it can seem like an eternity. Thank goodness I had put the fleece cover on the infant carrier or Claire would have frozen by the time we made it home. I had no blankets in the car but I did have old towels that I use to wash the dogs (they were freshly laundered). So, my kids all put "dog" towels over the heads to keep warm while I drove us home. I kept thinking that if we lived closer to town I would only have had to drive 5 minutes to get home and at a reasonable speed that wouldn't have turned our car into a moving popsicle. Score one for city living!

I can think of a plethora of reasons as to why living closer to town would be fab:

- we could get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time; currently it takes me 15 minutes just to run to the grocery store, which is actually a 30 minute round trip...figure in the time at the store and a quick jaunt for eggs turns into an hour long errand.

- we could order more for dinner than pizza from Papa Johns; don't get me wrong, I love PJ's pizza but it would be nice once in a while to be able to order from a different pizza place or a different type of restaurant all together.

- setting up playdates for my kids would be easier; I always hesitate to set up playdates for the kids because I always feel bad asking another parent to take so much time out of their day to drop off/pick up their kid(s) at our house.

- our kids could participate in more activities; right now I limit our activities because the drive time tends to make things drag out too late to work for our family.

- we would have more services available to us; currently we can only use certain cell phone/internet/cable provider because of where we live; having a better range of choices would be nice.

Those are just a few of the top reasons that living closer to the city would be a win-win situation. I know there are lots more.

So, there are days when I almost convince myself to call up a realtor, get our house listed and start looking for new digs. However, there are a lot of reasons that I haven't:

- we have a huge yard! Our children can play to their hearts' content and I never have to worry about them being abducted. I'm not saying that only "city" kids get abducted, but the chances that someone is going to be driving into our cul-de-sac out in the middle of nowhere and traipsing onto our property to abduct our kids has got to be pretty slim. Our backyard has about an acre and a half of woods behind it that are pretty much impossible to make your way through (poison ivy, briars, vines, etc...) so someone would have to work awfully hard to nab one of our kids out of the backyard.

- we have a large house; it's much larger than we would be able to afford if we moved. Our family is large and we need lots of room inside and out. Our house gives us that...3700 sqft of living space!

- we spend less money living so far away from things; Yes, having more choices would be nice but more choices would probably mean spending more money. Ordering food in or running out to a restaurant are a lot easier when you have options. When your only options are cooking or PJ's pizza AGAIN, you often choose to cook. Target runs are also less frequent since it takes so much time and planning to make it happen. All in all I think we spend less money on useless things.

- we have room for a large veggie garden; not that I have one now, but I plan to in the future!

- we can sit out on our deck at night and actually hear the crickets and night noises! We can also see the stars in all their crystal clear beauty.

- we have amazing neighbors! Some of my very dearest friends are our neighbors. We have been blessed to move into a nieghborhood full of amazing individuals. My neighbors never fail to bring a smile to my face and they are probably the #1 reason I don't want to move. It's really hard to find neighbors as great as the ones we have.

So, when it's all said and done I always choose to stay put. I figured I would write this post to remind myself of why I love where I live....even on days when I have to drive home in a popsicle.

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's that time of year again...

I love to be organized and on top of things. It drives me bonkers if I am running behind or forgetting things. So, with five kids this year, I am getting my Christmas shopping started now. I don't want to be stressing out over Christmas gifts the week before Christmas and I have found that if the majority of my shopping is done by Thanksgiving then it makes it easier for me to relax and enjoy the holiday season. Here is what my kids are asking for/getting this year:


Annie:


She is really into Squinkies. I think she has well over a hundred of them and I could be way off on that total...there could be more. So, one thing she will be getting is the Squinkie Zoo playset. I think she will have many hours of fun with this. Right now she is on that cusp between childhood and preteen drama. I am guessing that next year there won't even be a toy on the radar. So, she wants this toy and I am going to make sure she gets it. I want her to prolong her childhood as long as possible and enjoy being a little girl. On that note, here is what else Annie is getting for Christmas....

She is an avid reader and this is what she wants. I am planning to order her the basic Kindle without the ads. I will also throw in a few books for her as well so she can start enjoying it right away.

Megan:

I honestly don't have very many ideas for Megan. She has asked for Barbies but I really don't want to bring anymore Barbies into this house. We have two huge drawers full of them right now and one more naked doll is not on the top of my list to buy for my daughter. I am sure I will give in and buy at least one doll....probably the holiday one.

She has also asked for more make-up. Also another thing I don't really want to buy. Make-up in our house either ends up all over the younger kids or in too great a quantity on Megan. I have had enough with the battles about why we can't look like a street walker before heading to church.

She enjoys playing her DSi so I did buy her a few games for that (used). We also got a PS3 as a family this year so I may buy her a game for that as well. I really hate to only buy electronic items though. I am hoping that inspiration will strike in the next week or so. Any fun ideas for a total girly girl?

Lily:

Bless her heart, but Lily is just happy with anything. She enjoys playing with her little brother's toys as much as she does her own. If you take her to the store she will put anything and everything on her Christmas list. She is going to get the Squinkie Adventure Mall because she is also a Squinkies fan and has been asking for this for months.

She will probably end up with a new DS game or two so that she isn't always taking her sisters' games and erasing their progress.

Another thing she has asked for is this:
Like I said, she is pretty much happy with anything. :)


Noah:


Noah, is the easiest kid to shop for this year! He is all about Super Heroes so it has been a breeze! He is getting Super Hero bedding for his bed along with new curtains, a cool Captain America pillow and some cool Batman pjs to wear. He is also getting a few Super Hero action figures and a helmet and hammer from Thor.


My favorite gift for him is this:
I think I will enjoy it more than he will! I also bought him every figure I could find to go with it. I am anxious to introduce my little man to the awesomeness that is Star Wars!


Claire:


It has been hard to come up with ideas for Claire. She is girl #4 in this family and we are pretty much set when it comes to baby/girl toys. I did buy her a little entertainer for her crib as well as a little baby doll, but that is about it. We have had the original Leap Frog Learning Table since when Annie was a baby, so I was thinking of updating that. However, I have a hard time spending money on a toy we essentially already have and that works fine. Like Megan, I am hoping inspiration will strike soon.


As for Carlos and myself....well the hubby wants a new winter coat so I am going to make that happen. I am not sure what else he wants. I am going to guess clothes. It's so rare that he buys himself clothing that he is overdue for a lot of new items. I am gunning for a Kindle Fire! I am pretty sure that is what I want and I am trying to make myself hold off on ordering one until I see how others like their's. I don't know if I can though. :)


So, there you have it. The Herrera Family Christmas list. I like to write it down so in the years to come I can look back and see what my kids were into and what was popular. So, what's on your list?







Thursday, September 29, 2011

So far...so good....

I am serving as a squad leader for my daughter's American Heritage Girls squad. We had our first meeting a couple of weeks ago and we began working on the Physical Fitness badge. One of Annie's requirements is to track everything she eats and drinks for three days. She did and it was a big eye opener for me! I always had in the back of my head that she didn't eat quite enough fruits and veggies but I figured it probably all evened out in the end. Well, I can tell ya that she hardly ate any fruits or veggies! Sure, there were days when she had some bananas or apple sauce but there was not a single day she had veggies, unless you count spaghetti sauce! What? I knew something had to change.

I decided then and there that I was done fixing seperate meals for each person in our family and trying to give everyone what they wanted for dinner. So, I put a stop to that practice. I was no longer going to make individual meals for anyone. I was also going to serve a fruit and a veggie at each and every dinner we sat down to. Well, that was almost three weeks ago and I am happy to say that we are going strong!

My children, who basically never ate meat or veggies, have had a whole variety of things in the last three weeks. They have eaten homemade vegetable soup, baked potatoes, chicken tacos, roast beef, green beans, grilled chicken, corn....the list goes on and on! I have also added more fruits and veggies to my diet. I had asparagus for the first time the other night and it was good! I forced myself to eat cooked carrots, which were something I stayed away from at all costs before. However, I couldn't expect my children to do a better job of eating if I didn't do it myself. So, I dove in! Annie, who only likes applesauce and bananas, has eaten strawberries, grapes, plums, nectarines and raspberries!

We have also tried to have less processed snacks in the house. So, I have made more things from scratch. We had homemade chocolate chip cookies last week and banana bread the week before that. Yes, it's been a bit more work to bake/fix/cook all our snacks but I feel like my kids are going to be healthier for it.

So, I am proud of my kids for stepping out of their comfort zones and I am proud of myself for sticking to my guns and following through. I just hope we can continue our new and improved diet.

Monday, September 19, 2011

In love with my life...

I am so in love with my life! I know I said earlier that my life can be hard...it can. However, it's so wonderful that I can hardly contain my glee. I am living my dream. I have five beautiful children that I adore, a husband that is all that and a bag of chips and I have the means to live a comfy life. Does it really get any better than that?

I love my husband. He is one of those guys you read about and think "gee, I wish I had one of those guys". I do! He is totally supportive of me being a stay-at-home Mom. He has never made me feel that my "job" is any less important than his. In fact, he often comments how my job is much harder and way more important than his! There are days when he comes home and the house is a wreck and the kids are screaming and the dogs are barking and there is no dinner ready...he doesn't say a word. He simply gives me a hug and asks how my day was. He listens to me vent, whine and complain all the time. He never begrudges me a thing. If I say I want it and we can afford it, then I can have it. He compliments me on a daily basis and makes me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. He is an amazing father to our children and a wonderful spiritual leader for our family.

I love having Annie as a daughter. She is a total bookworm like her Mom. She devours books on a daily basis and her favorite thing to do is to buy a much longed for book and hurry home to curl up and read it. She is a hard worker and earns and saves money like no kid her age should be able to do. She was bound and determined to save enough money for her very own puppy and she did! It took her the entire summer and involved doing lots of jobs she would rather not do (cleaning the litter box, vacuuming, doing laundry, etc...). The best part is that not only did she do all those household chores for money...there were plenty of days when she did them "just because Mommy needed help". She is an amazing big sister to Meg, Lily, Noah and Claire. She has a heart that is capable of so much love and it's evident every day. She was baptized in May and has such a heart for God. I am beyond proud of her.

I love having Meg as a daughter. She is my total girlie girl and without her I would be missing something vital. She loves pink and sparkles and spends many days "designing" new outfits in one of her numerous little notebooks. She says she is going to be a fashion designer when she grows up and I don't doubt her. She is an accessory girl. She loves jewelry, hats, scarves, sweaters and shoes...oh the shoes! Meg would love to have an entire room full of nothing but shoes. She loves all types but if they sparkle they are even better! She is my challenge when it comes to homeschooling, however, when she achieves something it's just that much sweeter for the both of us. She is super close to Mommy and worries about me constantly. When I was in the hospital having Claire, Meg was inconsolable. She ended up coming to the hospital to spend an entire day sitting by my side in my room. There were no video games or loud movies...she was just content to be there and sit in my room. She is my drama queen and her screams can be heard for miles. If it's a splinter, she screams. If she cuts her leg, she screams. If she bangs her head, she screams. I imagine that if she broke her leg she would scream at the same volume...loud. I wouldn't trade her for anything though...she surprises me every day.

I love having Lily as a daughter. She is the funniest child I have ever met. The things she comes up with make me giggle on a daily basis. She is my toughest child. She is always into something or knocking something down. She is often found tormenting her siblings just for the sake of something to do. She spends more time in "time out" than all of her other siblings combined. There are many days when she brings me to tears. In spite of it all though, she is so precious to me. She is sturdy and perfect for big hugs. She looks adorable when she wears her hair in pigtails. She looks like someone dropped Hershey kisses into her eyes...that perfect brown color. She is my grocery shopping buddy. She loves to snuggle up on my lap and be read to. She gives the best kisses and hugs. She never stops talking...just like her Mom. She is still young enough not to have an opinion on everything and never tells me that I am wrong. She keeps me on my toes and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I love having Noah as a son. I never knew I was missing something until he entered my world. Daughters are precious but sons are amazing in a different way. He brings something to my life that I wouldn't have otherwise had. He looks the most like me...fair, light hair, blue eyes. His little legs are so scrawny but I still love to tickle and kiss them. He is probably going to need speech therapy. Poor kid can't talk to save himself. I understand most of what he is trying to say though and hearing him say "Ma" is music to my ears. He is all boy, which can be good and bad. It's fun to listen to him play with his toys. He growls and grunts and hits like any boy should. He is also totally insane and I know he will end up in the ER sooner or later. He pulls me down to kiss me when I put him down for a nap or to bed. He sucks his thumb and pushes his little ear in on itself in a way that is strange and endearing. Sometimes he sits next to me and sucks his thumb and reaches up to rub my ear lobe. It melts my heart. He loves super heroes...he will be superman for Halloween. He is into playing with action figures and could take or leave cars. He is on the edge of those "Mommy's baby" years and leaning towards those "Big boy" years. He is growing up too fast and it breaks my heart.

I love having Claire as a daughter. She is the sweetest baby. She has fit into our family without a hitch. She is laid back and calm...exactly what we needed. Her little baby smiles and sounds make me so happy. I love how her little breath smells like sour milk and I love to kiss the nape of her neck, where her hair is fuzzy. She has chubby thighs and I kiss them daily. Chubby babies are awesome! It's nice to buy pink again. It's nice to see how much her sisters and brother love her. She is an excellent nurser and a great sleeper. We always said five kids and she is the perfect end to our family. She manages to look a bit like all of her siblings on various days. She loves her Daddy and is always so happy when he holds her. She hardly ever cries...if she is crying it's because she needs something. I cheerish every moment of her infancy and I look forward to watching her grow into the amazing young lady she will become.

I simply love my life.

Monday, September 5, 2011

My Digital Life

I spent time today organizing the bookmarks on my computer. I have a zillion and one things that I have bookmarked so that I can easily find them again. However, I was finding that I have so many things bookmarked that I couldn't find what I needed when I needed it! It all started when I was trying to find a recipe for a pasta dish and I knew I had bookmarked it. I spent almost twenty minutes searching through all types of bookmarked recipes before I realized that I put it in a different folder all together! I was so frustrated. So, I sat down and organized EVERYTHING that I had bookmarked.

It feels really good to know where everything is and have everything clearly labeled. However, I realized today that I rely very heavily on my computer. Remember how our mothers would pull out their little recipe box when they were getting ready to cook? Well, this Mom fires up her computer so I can open up my recipe that was bookmarked from whatever random site it was on. It made me think how much trouble I would be in if something happened to my computer and I could never again access those bookmarks. I back up my photos on occasion and even my documents. However, if for some reason all of my bookmarks were gone I would be in a sad state. How in the world would I make some of my favorite recipes? How would I remember exactly how to make a certain craft I had found online? How would I remember all the names of the many blogs I read on a daily/weekly basis? It kind of freaked me out!

I realized that my life has become very digital. I do have a recipe box but it's full of recipe cards that my mother or grandmother have given me. I do have an address book but I only pull it out at Christmas to send Christmas cards. I hardly ever contact anyone with an old fashioned handwritten letter. I pay the majority of my bills online and do almost all of my banking online. I even store a good bit of my homeschooling info on my computer. Wow! When did this happen?

I have yet to give in to the allure of a smart phone. I am half afraid of them. I only just started texting using my three year old flip phone! So, I suppose I can take some measure of comfort in that. Although, Carlos and I both realize that at some point in the future we are going to have to give in and own smart phones so that we can actually function in modern society. For now, we are digging in our heels and holding onto our flip phones and cheap monthly plan.

So, I suppose I have become quite digital in many ways, however, I still have a ways to go. I can only imagine what life will be like by the time Annie is heading off to college. I think I will bury my head in the sand and not think about it. :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thrifty...

I have five children to clothe and feed....life can be expensive for our family. I am always on the look out for ways to save our family money. I am becoming thrifty. I wasn't always a thrifty person. I recall a time in my life when there was no way I would put used clothing on any of my precious babies. I didn't have time to wait for a library book to become available. I would just buy it. I ate out with abandon. I searched Carmax for the perfect car that had fancy features and I would plan out when I would be buying it. A lot has changed!

I am now a huge fan of buying my kids used clothing! Why spend the money for new stuff that they will simply ruin or outgrow? I scour Ebay like a fiend in search of the perfect things to round out my childrens' wardrobes. I rummage around at consignment sales looking for gems and I dig through clearance racks in hopes of a great deal. Yes, I have four girls so you would think that I would just buy new and plan to pass it down. In some cases that does work, however, most times it doesn't. I am not quite sure what Annie does to her clothing but it is always on it's last legs by the time she finishes with it. I wash her clothing carefully and make sure she isn't playing in mud with nice clothes on, but her stuff always looks like it's ready to head to the trash long before it will be used by the next in line. I also have to deal with the fact that Annie is a tom boy and Megan (next in line) is a total girly girl. So, Annie prefers jeans and yoga pants while Megan begs for dresses. See my problem? I also have to deal with the fact that Lily and Megan can wear the same size in some things. So, I need twice the amount of clothing for the two of them to share. Claire, you ask? Well, I long ago got rid of my baby girl clothing so we are starting from scratch with her. We are also starting with nothing when it comes to Noah's wardrobe as well. So, you see, I often find myself in need of clothing for five children and that can break the bank if you buy it all new.

I have been fortunate to have good friends who have passed on items their children have outgrown. Thank goodness! That has saved me bundles! I try to return the favor and pass along items that my children have outgrown, however, most times they are not fit to pass on since so many have worn the items. I do try though.

There are some items that I do invest money in. I like to buy one new and good pair of shoes for each kid each season. I find that used shoes will often be too worn out to be very comfy or supportive when we are talking about shoes my kids wear often. I will buy used dress shoes though because they don't get much wear. I also tend to buy good winter coats if I can find them on sale and I refuse to buy used underwear for any of my kids. :)

I have become a huge fan of the library in recent years. Buying books is just not a smart money choice for me anymore. The kids and myself devour books like starving wild animals so it's not worth paying money for a book that we will be done with in a couple of days. Plus, we always have a large variety at our fingertips, which I love. Trips to the library are a family favorite! In fact, Claire has been to the library more times than I can count but has yet to venture to the mall.

I am also more aware when it comes to money we spend on food. It is a rare treat for our family to eat out. We may dine in a restuarant once every two or three months. It's not just the cost but the hassle of dealing with all of our children in a public place. I do fine with it, however, it drives Carlos to the brink of insanity. So, we tend to eat at home as often as possible. If we are going to be out and about at meal time then I usually pack a cooler with food and drinks and drag it along. It's not as fun as eating out but it sure does keep the pocketbook fuller.

So, I have become a more thrifty person over the years. It's not so much by choice but by necessity. I find that I enjoy it though. It's kind of a challenge to see how far I can stretch the budget each month. I know that I have a long way to go though. I am toying with the idea of revamping the food budget and making some of my own cleaning supplies in the future. I will let you know how that works out.

I will survive...

I am going to be totally honest, life with five children is REALLY hard. It's fall into bed on the verge of death each night hard. I am on the go from the second I put my feet on the floor in the morning and I don't stop until....well I never really stop. My days are a blur of activity. If I actually get a moment to sit down then I find myself feeling guilty that I am not "insert activity here" (folding laundry, doing the dishes, reading to the kids, playing with the dogs, running the vacuum, etc...).

Despite how hard it is though, I love my life! I love having five kids! I grew up as an only child and I always envied my friends who had siblings. It seemed like such a great thing to be surrounded by noise and chaos. There was always a buddy to play or argue with. Holidays were always more fun and their houses were always full of such a variety of playthings. So, when Carlos and I got married we said we would have five kids. Of course, after we had Annie we thought that maybe two would be good. Along came Megan and she was a tough baby. So, two seemed like a good number. Of course, if you fast forward a couple of years you find out that two wasn't quite enough. Along came Lily and she made Megan seem like the easiest kid on the planet. I swore I was done! If you check out my side bar then you see that I was not done. Enter Noah, my first son. I love having a son! He is wild and crazy in a way that little girls aren't. He is Mommy's little man and is constantly in motion. When he was a baby I often told anyone who would listen that I would have lots more kids if I knew they were going to be like Noah. However, as he has gotten older he has gotten harder. I know that he will have his fair share of ER visits and he will give me gray hair long before my girls do. So, once again I swore I was finished. Three girls and a boy seemed like a nice little family. There didn't need to be anymore. We were done!

Yeah right! Along came Claire! She is the sweetest baby and I can't imagine our family without her. She reminds me of Annie as a baby. She is pretty laid back and has such a sweet smile. I am hoping that she will continue to favor Annie in personality...Annie is my easiest kid by far. Claire is the perfect combination of chubby legs, sweet smelling head and baby gurgles. I love every minute I spend with her. I honestly don't mind waking up in the middle of the night to nurse her. I find myself treasuring those quiet moments because I am 100% certain that she will be my last baby. My pregnancy with Claire was hard on my body. I had a few medical issues and even had to undergo surgery after she was born. I think that no matter what my heart tells me or how sad I may be to be holding my last "baby", I have to admit that physically I am done. My body told me so and I am going to listen.

So, I look ahead to all the wonderful things about having our last baby. There is an end in sight to buying diapers and baby gates! Family vacations will be more manageable without new babies and pregnant Moms. Sleepless nights will become less frequent, although they will never really go away. I can finally exercise and spend time improving me without a pregnancy sneaking in there to foul things up. Maybe I can even manage to carve out time for dentist and doctor appointments for myself! Oh the luxury! Of course, the best thing about Claire being our last baby is that I can finally appreciate and spend time with the children I have. I spent my whole pregnancy telling my children that I was too tired to do something or that I was too sick to do something. I can now finally find the energy to actually do stuff with my kids! I am sure you are wondering where I find that energy and I don't really know. I just know that I certainly have more energy now than I did while I was pregnant.

Yes, the days are hard. Five kids are a challenge. However, I will survive and I will look back on this time in my life with a smile.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

She's here!



Claire Elena Herrera arrived on July 5, 2001 at 3:33pm. She weighed 8lbs. 13oz., which was about a pound less than I expected her to weigh. She was 20.5in., which puts her in the 50th percentile for height, shorter than I thought she would be. Her head is small as well...she's our first baby not to be in the 100th+ percentile for head size! So, I suppose she was a big baby but she seems quite small to me. She has a little tiny nose and a petite little chin, which I just adore. We have already moved out of newborn size diapers and clothes and we are now in size 1 diapers and size 0-3mo. clothing. I am guessing she will wind up being just about average size wise.


I was thrilled because I went into labor all on my own. That is something I haven't done since I had Annie all those years ago. It was a neat experience. I was thrilled that I didn't need to be induced, which I was scheduled for that Friday. The entire labor (from the first contractions) lasted about 15hrs., which is my longest labor yet. The other kids were all born in under 8hrs. Claire came out screaming and was pretty much a pro at nursing from the get-go.


The other kids are doing fairly well adjusting. Although, Megan is more clingy and smart mouthed than usual. I am not sure if that is due to the fact that my Mom was here giving her lots of attention or if she is having issues adjusting. I suppose time will tell. Lily is also having a few issues, however, Annie and Noah have taken everything in stride with nary a complaint. That's funny because I was sure that the two of them would have the most trouble adjusting...guess I was off the mark on that one.


My Mom left yesterday, after spending almost two weeks with us. It was my first solo day with all five kids. It went fairly well. Claire seems to have a fussy period in the late afternoon and then again in the early evening. I still managed to get dinner on the table and help with bedtime for the older kids. I went into today feeling pretty proud of myself...big mistake. Today, Claire fussed pretty much the entire morning and I accomplished nothing. I didn't even get to eat a snack or any lunch until 2pm! I finally got her to fall asleep about an hour ago and I am enjoying not having someone on me. :) I really have the urge to get out and head to Target and the library, but the thought of dealing with five kids in public makes me feel stressed and edgy. I figure it's probably best to just stay home.


So, I am surviving. The other kids are surviving. Claire is surviving. Carlos is surviving. I suppose that's the best we can do right now. :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Medical Issues

Spring of 2011 was full of medical issues for our family. Thanks goodness none of them were too serious but it was still a lot of doctor's visits, vet visits and hospital visits. It wasn't exactly how I wanted to spend my days.

We started off with our dog, Rosie, needing surgery. She didn't just need some run of the mill, couple of hundred dollar surgery either. She messed up her knee and had to have very expensive, long recovery surgery. We had noticed her limping since December of last year. It didn't seem to improve so we took her to the vet in January. We were told that she had probably strained/pulled a muscle and to let her rest more and it would heal. Well, it didn't. So, we went back to the vet and had x-rays done. We were concerned about hip displaysia, however, her hips looked fine. That was the good news. The bad news was that her knee cap was detached and causing her a good amount of pain. So, she went in for surgery to have her knee cap reattached and her tendons tightened. The poor dog! When we brought her home a few days later, it was to place her in her crate where she would need to remain 24/7 for the next two weeks. Carlos even had to carry her outside to go potty. It's been about two months now and I am happy to report that she is healing well. She still has a slight limp and will probably favor that leg for quite some time, however, she is tons better than she was.




Rosie, a few days after her surgery.




As I have mentioned before, I will be 35yrs. of age when Claire is born in a few weeks. So, I have had to have a few extra tests run as well as a few extra ultrasounds. Currently, we are keeping an eye on Claire's size. My third daughter, Lily, was a little over 9lbs. at birth and I am concerned that Claire is going to surpass that! I had an ultrasound a few weeks ago and she was already measuring large, however, my belly was still in the normal range. Well, I went to the OB a few days ago and now my belly is also measuring large. So, we will do an ultrasound in about a week and a half and if she is still large then we may opt to go with a c-section this time around. I am quite nervous about it since I have never had a c-section. However, I also need to have an umbilical hernia repaired sooner rather than later, so it may make sense to take care of it all in one day. So, that has been weighing on us a bit.


My second oldest daughter, Megan, has had some health issues as well. She is normally my healthiest child but for some reason has had a rough time as of late. First, she had some major constipation issues after Easter (darn all that sugar) and it was a rather traumatic few days while we dealt with that. Trust me, you don't want any details. Let's just say that both Mommy and daughter will not soon forget. Secondly, she began having side pains one day. I figured she was coming down with a virus and didn't think too much about it. However, after 24hrs. of her complaining we decided a trip to the ER was in order. Our pediatrician was concerned about a possible appendicitis so we were taking things very seriously. She spent the evening in the ER having all sorts of tests run. The doc did discover she had gallstones, but didn't think that was causing the problems. So, they eventually sent her home with instructions to call our pediatrician if things got worse. Well, within 12hrs. we were back at the pediatrician with a VERY dehydrated and sick little girl. I knew before I even got there that they were going to send her to the childrens' hospital and I was right. She was admitted for two days while she received IV fluids and had numerous blood tests run. In the end it was determined that she had some nasty virus that had taken her down. So, she came home but it took several more days before she started to exhibit much life. It was a scary 3 days while we tried to figure out what was going on. The doc said that while she does have gallstones, she didn't believe they were causing her any issues right now, however, she can probably look forward to gallbladder surgery when she is a teen or an adult. :(



Meg receiving IV fluids at Kosair Childrens' Hospital.


We thought we were finished with the medical drama, and for the most part we are. However, Carlos got bit by a spider or some such creature last week and we are now dealing with that. He has a very scary looking bite on the back of his leg and is currently taking antibiotics for it. He also has poison ivy that he is taking steroids to control. So, we are keeping an eye on him as well.


I am pretty sure that when the summer ends we will have reached our annual out of pocket maximum for our health insurance. Between that and the dog's surgery, I am resigning myself to being broke for the rest of the year. At least I will have a baby to snuggle and fuss over. :)

A Few Photos....

Annie was baptized by her Daddy on her 9th birthday!




The girls and I attended a Mother/Daughter Tea.






We enjoyed the circus over spring break!




The entire gang geared up for the circus to begin!







Monday, June 6, 2011

Alive and Well

I honestly didn't mean to neglect this blog quite so much. Life just got in the way and I am all about living life rather than sitting at the computer blogging. I may check Facebook and my email twenty times a day but to actually sit down and blog is something I find hard to fit in. So, what have we been up to?

We have been plugging away with homeschooling. My original intent was to take the months of June, July and August off, however, I have since decided to keep right on trucking as long as I can. I figure that if we school for most of the month of June then I can take even more time off once the baby arrives next month! Of course, even better would be if I had a great delivery and could jump back into schooling mid-August! That would mean that we would have a lot of flexibility the rest of the school year! I find that prospect exciting!

Annie is doing really well with her math...finally. She still doesn't love it but she has learned that it's a necessary evil so she keeps working hard. We have added in more grammar, spelling and dictionary skills the last few weeks and those have been a nice change of pace for her. Something new to occupy her mind and keep her on her toes.

Meg is hanging in there with her reading. She just lacks confidence. She is always so shocked when she realizes that she can read something. In her mind, she still thinks of herself as a non-reader, when in fact, she can read! I just keep encouraging her and hoping she will eventually develop more confidence in her reading abilities. She has really gotten into drawing lately. We have checked out several books from the library about drawing and sketching and most evenings you can find her at the kitchen table with a drawing pad and pencil where she tries to follow the instructions in the book. Her Abuelita is quite artisic so I am guessing she is getting this trait from her. I can hardly draw a stick figure so it sure isn't coming from me!

Lily had a rough finish to her first year of preschool. She has been beyond clingy with me and the last few weeks she refused to go to school. It's so hard to see my normally independent little girl like this. She is even refusing to go to her Sunday school room at church, which she normally loves. All she wants is to be with Mommy all the time. I am guessing she is feeling a bit insecure about the baby's arrival, so I am doing all I can to reassure her. One thing that has helped is that I have started doing "school" with her as well. She has been working through a preschool workbook each day and that really seems to occupy her and keep her happy. I know she will make a great big sister to Claire once it's all said and done though.

Noah has entered the terrible two's with a vengance! He is a little monster most days. Don't get me wrong, he is still the most loving little boy around, but when he decides to act up it's awful! One minute he will be cuddling on the couch with me and giving me kisses and five minutes later he is having an all out fit because he isn't getting his way about something. I know that the girls went through this as well but they were always dramatic and loud to begin with so it wasn't too shocking. Noah, however, has always been so laid back and sweet tempered so this feels like it's coming out of left field. This too shall pass though.

I am doing well. I have officially reached the point in pregnancy when it's just no fun. I am huge and everything hurts. The heat is driving me over the edge! I think I am going to end up freezing the family this last month of pregnancy. I have the house AC set low, a window unit AC in my bedroom, the ceiling fan on high and a tabletop fan blowing directly on me and I am still hot! The kids are always tucked up under fleece blankets and I am laying around like a whale sweating. It's quite the scene. I have about four or five more weeks to go. I keep telling myself that I should be enjoying this time because it's going to be so much harder once Claire joins us, however, it's hard to trump the misery I am feeling on a daily basis. Someone please remind me of this a month or two from now. :)

We have had a few medical issues as well, but that's a separate post.... For now, just know that we are happy and doing fine. :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Quick update...

I am jumping on to give a quick update about what the month of January brought us.....

We have had a lot of winter weather in our neck of the woods. That's kind of unusual for us. As I type this, I am ever so grateful that we are not feeling the effects of the massive blizzard/ice storm that is passing just to the North of us. I have kind of had enough of winter weather. I did notice this morning that my daffodils are starting to poke their little green buds up out of the ground! It sure brought a smile to my face!

I went in for my Level 2 ultrasound. I am considered Advanced Maternal Age (AMA) since I will be 35 when this baby is born. It kind of gives me a chuckle. :) I would classify myself AMA due to how old I feel most days instead of how old I actually am! There are some days where I tumble into bed feeling like I am about 80! The great news is that Baby #5 looks fabulously healthy! I believe my OB said my risk of having any major issues was about 1 in 10,000. I'll take those odds! We also found out that we are most likely having another baby girl! I was a little past 15 weeks when I had the ultrasound and the OB doesn't like to state the gender at that age but she said she was 95% sure it was a girl. I have seen three previous girls on ultrasound and I agree with her. :) I will have another ultrasound on March 2nd to double check on how baby is doing and then the OB will feel closer to 100% in regards to the baby's gender. I have already deemed her a little girl and have bought several adorable pink outfits. We have chosen the name Claire Elena. We opted to go with Claire because it's a beautiful name and we went with Elena because it's the Spanish version of Elaine, which is my middle name and my Mother's first name. So, it's a name with some special meaning behind it.

We also celebrated Carlos' 38th birthday and Noah's 2nd birthday! I can't believe either of them is the age they are! I remember when Carlos and I met and married...we were in our 20's! Where has that time gone? We will celebrate 10 years of marriage in August! Noah is an awesome little two year old boy. He is full of energy and super sweet. He is certainly a Mommy's boy and will cuddle and kiss me any chance he gets. I am soaking it up because I know that I will blink and he will be too old to want to snuggle with Mommy.

February is promising to be a busy month. We have Valentine's Day, Lily's birthday and my birthday in the second half of the month. I can't wait!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Christmas, New Year's & the rest.

I meant to sit down and upload a mess of photos from Christmas. I really did. I managed to get them onto Facebook but never quite made time to load them onto the blog. So, you will have to settle for a quick description of our holidays.

Carlos, took the week prior to Christmas off. It was nice to have him home. I managed to get lots of stuff done around the house and I was able to check off several errands that had been waiting for me. I also got to take lots of naps, which was wonderful! This pregnancy really knocked me flat with morning sickness and exhaustion, so it was so nice to curl up each afternoon and snooze for an hour or so. It didn't make the sickies go away but it did make me feel a bit more able to handle the rest of the day.

One thing I had wanted to accomplish was to bake and decorate cookies with the kids. We have made sugar cookies and decorated them every year and it's a memory I really treasure. I was on the look out for a new sugar cookie recipe since our old stand by was failing to impress anyone anymore. I found one that sounded good so we went with it. I made lots of dough because my girls always want to decorate lots of cookies. We ran into two problems....the first problem was that the girls weren't really interested in decorating more than a half dozen cookies each! What? Annie and Megan have, I guess, become too old to really enjoy cookie decorating. Lily worked like a trooper but even she got bored after awhile. In the end, it ended up being Carlos and I decorating umpteen cookies with sprinkles and sugar crystals. It wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I started the whole cookie experience that morning. The second problem we ran into was that in the end, the cookies weren't that great. What a bummer! So, we had tons of blah tasting cookies that the kids didn't even really enjoy decorating. I learned my lesson though. Next year I am going with the old stand by recipe and only making a dozen or so cookies.

Christmas Day was actually quite relaxing in our house. The kids all loved the toys they received and they stayed busy on their own for most of the day. Carlos and I lolled around on the couch and watched holiday movies while munching on blah cookies. :) I made roast beef for dinner and that was that. So, what did the kids end up getting?

Annie ~ Lego sets, Zoobles, Squinkies and some board games.

Meg ~ Barbies, Rollerblades, Shrinky Dinks and some board games.

Lily ~ Princess & the Frog items, My Little Pony Mermaid castle, Melissa & Doug mailbox and some DVDs.

Noah ~ Tonka truck, Sing-a-ma-jigs, Race track for his cars and some new books to chew on.

There were more gifts from family and friends as well. So, our kids were quite blessed this year and we are very grateful.

We spent New Year's Eve at home this year. It was just our family. I had been upset because I was concerned about watching the ball drop in NYC, which I have done every year of my life! You see, we no longer have TV....that means we didn't get to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, any of my beloved Steelers games and things aren't looking so hot for watching the Super Bowl either! I did a bit of internet research and found a live webcast of NYC and the festivities so I did manage to watch the ball drop at midnight! The girls watched it with me. They were fairly grossed out by all the kissing happening on the TV. :)

Our family is looking forward to 2011! We are excited to celebrate Noah's 2nd birthday, Lily's 4th birthday, Meg's 7th birthday and Annie's 9th birthday! We are biting our nails in anticipation of welcoming Baby #5 sometime in July! We have several little projects around the house we are planning to tackle and we are just looking forward to being together as a family. So, we wish you and your's a wonderful 2011!

**By the way, I apologize for not sending out Christmas cards this year. It is the first year since we have been married that I didn't. However, I spent most of December feeling lousy and I just wasn't up to it. I hope you understand. We did LOVE receiving cards from all of you though and I promise to send out cards in 2011!