Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Like Butter (said with the appropriate accent)

We are super excited b/c 11 of our friends, whom we met in the Dominican Republic, are coming today for New Years. So . . .

Papi had to work this morning with all of the final details for his upcoming ski trip with the youth.  And Mommy?  Well, I'm in the kitchen making food for our guests so that I won't spend the ENTIRE time in the kitchen, getting the girls lunch ready, and talking with some folks from church who stopped by.  Ok, I'm all for multi-tasking, but this was a bit too much I guess. I left 1/2 stick of butter within fingers reach on the counter. Bad, bad thing.
I didn't think anything of it - I leave things on the counter a lot - usually pushed back out of reach.  Not this time.
I should have realized something was up when Stella, on her own initiative, left the kitchen for the playroom.  Yes, it was very, VERY quiet for a while.  Then I saw it.
Chloe running towards me - big smile on her face - being chased by Stella.  What is that yellowish clump in her hair?  What's on her face?  What is that blob in Stella's hand?  Good Lord . . . butter.  Half melted, half gone butter.  I quickly clean off Chloe & Stella, and say a quick prayer as I head back to the playroom.
Stella decided to 'wax' the dollhouse floors, clean various pieces of furniture, play the little piano, and adorn a few more toys with BUTTER.  Wow is this stuff slimy.
Ok, gotta get back to preparing for our guests - but didn't want to forget to chronicle the butter incident.  I'm sure I'll find some more later.  Oh Darling, it's like butter.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

We had a great Christmas.  Grammy, Tio Frank, Tia Sarah, Frankie, Micah & Ruthie were here with us. We REALLY missed Tia Kelly.  It was nice to wake up with a house full of family.  We kept the door going into the living room closed so that we could all go in together - plus you kids wouldn't see the presents.  We got Chloe & Claire up, and Grammy wanted to say a prayer before we went in to open up presents.  It can be hard to keep focused on Jesus' birth being the real reason to celebrate with 8 kids 6 years old & under.  So Grammy told all you kids to sit down so that we could say a prayer.  Jillian, who LOVES to sing the blessing before dinner, decided she would take charge of this prayer.  Here was her prayer:
Thank You, Jesus
for our presents . . . AMEN.
At the amen all of you kids screamed, and ran out of the room, and into the living room at TOP speed. Grammy, Sarah, and I were momentarily stunned at the quick prayer - and even quicker feet carrying all of you kids out of the room - and then laughed hysterically.  Arturo was sitting on the couch & got a few shots of you running in!

We had also talked about having you open up the presents slowly, maybe even handing you the presents so that we could see your reactions & see what people gave you. None of that happened.  The next 20 minutes was a present ripping frenzy.  Awesome!

The girls LOVE puppets & Micah was putting on a quick show for Claire.

Stella woke up a bit later than everyone.  I know you may be wondering why I did not wake Stella up when everyone else got up.  Maybe Stella you have changed by the time you read this, but if not you COMPLETELY understand why I let you sleep until you were ready.  Mama knows.  You came out smiling!

This is Claire's new way of 'posing' for the camera.  Lovely.
Stella had a candy necklace in her stocking, and stopped everything for this pre-breakfast treat.
Grammy bought you girls a doll house.  Sarah & I spent a few hours the night before putting it together, and it was worth it. You girls LOVE it, and I know there will be LOTS of hours logged on that doll house.
Jillian, you were in baby heaven.  You spent lots of time with Ruthie, and she equally enjoyed the time.

The weather has been unseasonably warm here, and so it has been great to play outside.  It was perfect because Pap & Grandma Linda bought you girls some new swings for the play set & all of you guys had a great time breaking it in!  All of you girls & your cousins fully took advantage of being together, and with very little fighting.  Which is a Christmas blessing in itself.  
I have to admit that there is a part of me that wishes we would have focused more on Jesus' birth.  Been more 'spiritual'.   Should have volunteered somewhere.  Should have helped in a bigger way.  Should have read some more books about Christmas.  Should have . . . I don't know.  Girls, learn from me that it is NOT good to should on yourselves.  We had a wonderful Christmas.  I am SO grateful for our health, the unity of our family, the generosity of others, a warm house to celebrate Christmas in.  I know that Papi, Grammy, Tio Frank & Tia Sarah, Tia Kelly - we all feel that way.  We are so grateful to God for how He has blessed this family in all ways.  I think I've said it before, but cannot stress it enough.  We need to live Christmas throughout the year.  Celebrate what God has done for us by sending Jesus to be our Saviour.  Serve and think of others and their needs throughout the year.  Be grateful to God in all things - for He is good - all of the time - every day of the year.  Merry Christmas girls - every day!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Singing, Some Crying, and Medicine

Christmas Programs with LOTS of children are more than a bit chaotic.  Stella, Chloe & Claire you had your program on Wednesday.  Stella, you were an angel.  Let me rephrase.  You were dressed as an angel, and you looked angelic for the first 5 minutes.  Chloe & Claire, you were stars.  Let me rephrase.  You wore star necklaces  - or rather - you chewed on star necklaces.  
The curtained opened, and I could tell that Stella was searching the crowd for mommy.  Big eyes darting left & right - you knew I was there.  Finally your eyes found me, and locked on.  A BIG smile, a BIG wave, and a Big change on your face.  Oh boy!  I could tell in that instant - you wanted to get off of the stage.  Quickly. Uh, Oh.  Stella, when you get that set look on your face, it is NOT a pretty site when your way is deterred.  Luckily, Papi was also there to capture it ALL in pics.

Chloe, you REALLY enjoyed the program.  You were not frightened by all of the strange faces looking your way.  You were just curious about it ALL.  Some of the children were dressed as various animals (customarily it would have been farm animals since your school was telling the story of Jesus' birth - but there were a few lions, giraffes, and dalmatians there too).  You LOVED these animals, and most of the time you were pointing and 'talking' about the animals. You began to chew on your star when you saw Claire chewing on hers.  You love food, and I'm sure thought you might be missing out on something tasty.  You are my child!

Claire, I am not sure what you thought of the program.  I think you thought this was all a bit much & a bit childish.  You seemed rather bored with it all, and barely moved.   You did test out your star, but quickly realized it was not worth your chewing effort.  I also have to note, that I was very happy that everyone kept their Christmas bows in their hair - a Paulino girls first!

Jillian you had your choir program in the evening.  You looked beautiful in your blue & red polka dot dress.  You really LOVE to get all fancy!  You were SUPER excited to finally have your turn to go on stage and sing.  You have been a VERY supportive sister to Abi in her singing adventures, but you were more than excited for it to be you.  You enjoyed the singing, and mommy video-ed all of your songs.  Though, I realized while looking at the videos that mommy cannot wave & video at the same time.  Still, you truly love to sing, and I cannot wait for more of your programs!

Christmas Season and sickness seem to go hand in hand.  Right along with Christmas programs, presents, cookies, tree decorating, etc. we also seem to have kleenex, cough drops, tylenol, and warm tea.  All of you girls seem to have a bit of runny nose & a slight cough - but nothing too extreme.  So who gets sick - I mean SICK?  Mommy. ugh.  I was not good.  I felt like I was swallowing knives, and just felt like poo - stinky poo.  Papi really helped out & I slept as much as I could, though ALL of you chose that week to wake up as much as possible.  Abi & Jillian, you both really tried to help out & take care of mommy & I loved it.  Plus, it hopefully gave me small glimpse into the future.  The future where 5 daughters get to take care of & pamper mommy.
Ok, back to reality.  The house was . . . uhm . . . shall we say disaster?  That may be too mild of a word, but we'll stick with that (I won't even mention the laundry).  Anyway, Jillian you were SO very helpful playing with and entertaining your sisters - thank you.  Abi, you brought me blankets, warmed up my rice sock (my cheap heating pad), and gave me massages.  What sweet girls I have.  Now if you can transfer that sweetness to picking up all of your toys we'll be in business.  With all of my talk of slowing down during the holidays - I really had an opportunity to SSSLLLOOOWWW down.  A little too down actually.  
As I was in my warm house sipping on tea, with all of you healthy kids running around, and I was feeling like poo - well, I was grateful. It was ALL God to give me a moment of eternal perspective on His provision & goodness.  Grateful to have a warm home.  Grateful to have 5 healthy kids.  Grateful to have food & drink.  Grateful to have an extremely helpful husband.  Grateful that a young teenager traveled a far distance on a donkey while 9 months pregnant, so that she could give birth in sub-standard conditions.  Grateful that she gave birth to her & my & your Saviour.  Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.  Grateful that I have a God who loves me enough to:
Who, being in very nature God,
 did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, 
being made in human likeness.
Philippians 2:6-7
Christmas time is like - should be like - every other time of the year.  Filled with generosity, love, sickness, gratefulness, stress, etc. - and most of all Jesus.  Jesus who came to live among His creation so that we will see a picture of love & relationship.  Girls, may we live out that love & that relationship every day of the year!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wordful Wednesday

We went to Grammy's house for Thanksgiving (more on that later - when I find time). Papi had just got a new camera, and was excited to use it. So you brave girls, Abi & Jillian - & mommy, got up to go to the beach for a sunrise shot (actually anyone who knows mommy well will be a bit surprised that she agreed - or was talked into- getting up before sunrise to make it there & with NO coffee). It was chilly, but you girls enjoyed the beach none-the-less. In fact, Papi got up the next morning (no mommy), and Abi you and Guira went with him again. Fun stuff.

Check out Angie's blog for more Wordful Wednesday Pics! Good stuff.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Songs

Abi, you were chosen for 2 solos this Christmas. One for the church's Christmas program & one for your school. I am so very proud of you. You worked hard to memorize your part, and you had so much fun! I think I was more nervous than you were, shocker. Our church has an amazing music program, and anyone who wants a speaking part or solo has to audition. OK, you're right - everyone who auditions gets something . . . but you truly GOT a solo. Not just any solo, but I think you got the solo to the best & sweetest song. Hey, I'm your mom, I'm allowed to brag! You did such an amazing job & most of all you were NOT nervous or afraid! In fact, I had people coming up to tell me what a wonderful job you did. They heard you sing in practice, you sang for them in their car as they took you home, you sang for your teacher & WHOLE class at school, you sang for Grammy on the phone - jeesh girl - I could not believe your confidence. You were not arrogant, but confident. You knew you did a good job! I brought my camera, and between juggling Jillian on my lap & being mesmerized by the show - I forgot to take any pics/video. But I know people who did, and will soon add some pics. You were precious. We got home, and you called Grammy to tell her about the program, and I heard you say, "people said I stole the show. And I had a good time!' Perfect! Papi writes a weekly email to the parents of his youth group, and this is part of that email:

This past Sunday night after Youth, the children’s ministry from our church had a Christmas Program to which a bunch of our youth attended. It was my responsibility to video tape the program, so Mrs. Betsy assigned me a spot way in the back of the Fellowship Hall on some raisers in order to avoid people walking in front of the camera and for me to get a better angle. In that Christmas presentation my oldest daughter, Abigail, had a little solo during one of the last songs.

A couple of weeks prior to this event, some expectation was building up in our family since we’ve been hearing rumors that Abigail’s performance in the rehearsals have been really cute. Not that we as parents were looking for a perfect song from our daughter, but we just didn’t want her to panic or mess up.

As the moment of her song came up, I started feeling nervous as if I was the one standing at the microphone in front of the audience. Memories of the times we’ve heard Abigail practicing in our house came to my mind as she started to move her head to the beginning of the song.

By the end of her performance everything went great. She didn’t forget the words (that I noticed). She didn’t panic. She just sang with a sweet childish voice the tune we’ve been rehearsing for weeks.

When we came back home, after many compliments on Abigail’s solo, Abi and I sat at the table and talked. Right before she left the table I asked her how come she looked so calm and natural while performing a new song in front of a real crowd. She replied – I saw you behind the camera in the back.

“For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He watches all his paths.”

Proverbs 5:21 NASB

You also had a solo for school, and had to practice a LOT this week. You kept forgetting the blessed before Christmas, and I almost wrote it on your hand! But, not only did you remember to sing 'blessed Christmas', but you sang beautifully. It is hard to see in the video, but your sweet smile after you sing is priceless. The smile that says, 'I did it, I really did it & had fun!' I am so proud of you!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Homework, the drive to crazy, Advent & More

A few weeks have slid by since I wrote something, and mainly because I have not had a fully functioning brain. At least, it appears this may be the problem. There are days when I can say that a busy schedule, sick child or little sleep has compounded the problem (and you girls may read this & had assumed that I have always been this way). I seem to remember a time when my brain functioned at top speed - as Abi would say. Unfortunately this is not the case lately. In the midst of all of this, 'normal' life has proceeded & with it some great, funny, & frustrating moments. Here are some of those moments.Stella, you are not much of a talker, but you LOVE to sing and you are FULLY engaged in all Dora, Diego & Little Einstein videos. It truly is fun to watch you sing, answer Dora's questions, & pat-pat-pat with Little Einsteins. You are also taking on the role of big sister with Chloe & Claire, and it is ALWAYS in their best interest to follow your plan. You are quite 'persuasive' with them - praise God we are not an Italian family with Mafia connections. You are pretty attached to me when you have not found something to do, and as much as I LOVE to snuggle with you . . . having you literally attached to me all day long gets a bit draining. So today as I peeled you off of my leg for the 20th time I said, "Stella you are going to drive me crazy!" Jillian overhead and asked, "When are you going?" "What? Where?" I responded. "Crazy" was her reply. Ahhhh, mommy needs to be more careful with what comes out of her mouth!Abi, you are so amazingly smart, and I CANNOT believe what you are learning as a first grader. You have homework every night, and I'm amazed at what you know. But I have to admit that there are some nights (usually involving math) where I just don't think I can take it. I know I'm not the most patient woman (no laughing please), and it's not like I'm homeschooling (no judging please), but I'm not sure it's a good sign that I end the homework time perspiring & a bit sarcastic. Granted, having Stella bust in every 5 minutes to 'experiment' on the computer or Chloe & Claire banging on the door with toys can be a bit distracting; but number patterns & graphs have never been so difficult in all my life.
Chloe & Claire, it is truly amazing to see how quickly you girls have grown. The funny thing with 3 older sisters is that you want to play with all of their toys - forget the baby stuff. You also want to play how they play - including Stella - who LOVES to tackle. So Chloe has taken up chasing Claire, and tackling her. Surprisingly, you actually like this Claire - until Chloe lays on you. Then when you try to get up and can't, you b/c annoyed & begin to yell. Chloe lets you up, begins to chase you, and the cycle continues. It is incredible to watch how you make each other laugh, and it is incredible to watch how you steal each other's toys. Ahhhh, all day long.

Chloe your new 'thing' is to sing part of the Messiah. Yes, Handel's Messiah. I am practicing it for our church choir, and it is often playing in the background. So there is a part that goes, Wonderful, and the next line is, Counselor. Yep, Chloe you sing Counselor. Ok, it doesn't sound exactly like Counselor (I didn't say you were a musical prodigy), but you get the notes right on - pretty impressive I say.
A few days ago I got down all of our Christmas decorations. You girls are SUPER DUPER DUPER EXCITED about the lights and Christmas. It actually hasn't been too hard getting lights up . . . I never took the outside lights down from last year. Yep, we are one of those families who keep their Christmas lights up ALL year long. Who really notices? Besides I think laundry kept taking precedence over climbing onto the roof. Actually Tia Kelly put them up for us last year, did such a good job that I didn't need to take them down. Sweet!
Girls, we have entered into the season of Advent. Basically means we are preparing to celebrate Jesus' birth. I have to confess that I am still learning how to do this. Grammy bought the Veggie Tales Nativity Scene, and I thought we would set it up, each day in advent discuss a piece until we get to the baby Jesus (or baby asparagus in this case). But the pieces are already scattered around the house. I seem to work well having a plan of action, a goal, a book to read, a devotion to follow, a ritual to complete. Now, none of this is bad - but at times I get so focused on . . . the plan, that I seem to miss the awesome simplicity of this season. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. That whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life." Pretty awesome, huh?
God may the expectancy of celebrating Your Son's birth permeate everything we do so that there is a deep overflowing joy, peace, fellowship, and service in all we do!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wonderful Poses

Papi has been practicing on his new camera, and you girls have been willing models. You each have so many different 'looks', and at times I see a glimpse of a much older little girl - it's a bit scary.  I am VERY grateful that Papi is doing such a wonderful job at capturing our family in photos.