I’m Back!….What happened?

 

 

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Sometimes we get a little antsy waiting at the airport for Daddy…

 

Hey Everyone! You probably thought I got lost or something, haha! Not to worry, after a 7 month hiatus, I’m back!

So what happened? Mostly, life happened.

My computer finally gave up on me in May, after 7 years of faithful service. I decided to wait ‘til October, when we visited the U.S. to get a new one. (Anyone else have bad luck with electronics in Latin America?)

By then I was so out of the blogging habit that it’s taken be awhile to get the nerve to jump back into things. I thought I’d give you a quick update of what’s been going on for the last 7 months.

Right before my computer went kaput (is that actually a word?….yes, I’m the geek that has to look it up now….it is! Yay!) I had just started the Food Cleanse portion of my 2014 Life Cleanse. It went really well, I felt it was very effective, much more so then my last try, and I felt like it did restart my health and get me back on the right track to eating right for my body. The total cleanse lasted over a month with first taking out all processed foods, then going vegetarian, then vegan, then just fruits and veggies, then juice and then back again.

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Yep, that would be two lines alright!

I was just finishing up my Cleanse when I found out I was pregnant again! This was a bit of a surprise since I had just miscarried right before I started my Cleanse. I was so grateful I had, had the chance to clean out my body before starting to grow one inside of it;)

For the next couple months my main focus was keeping my cookies down and trying to find a rhythm of life I could realistically handle with a pregnancy.

Balance is always something I struggle with, especially when pregnant, but the last couple pregnancies have taught me that I cannot be Super Woman because my actions and health don’t just affect me. Thus, I’ve tried to be gentler with my body while pregnant and found that it helps in a multitude of ways which I’m sure I will detail in another post;)

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“She feels it’s important to be prepared….”

We were able to go on a much needed family trip to the beach in May, in which I was once again reminded of how traveling and morning sickness don’t mix well. Thankfully Marvel and the kids were just happy to be at the beach and didn’t complain that Mommy was laying around and not on top of meals nor anything else for that matter:/

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Happy with her castle cake!

We finished up our homeschool year in June and celebrated Elf’s 4th birthday! Man time flies! She is growing up so fast, maturing even faster…4 going on 40! She keeps us on our feet and laughing all the way!

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Wow! Ten years already!

In July we celebrated our 10th Wedding Anniversary with a dinner out all by ourselves! Gasp! We had entire conversations without interruption and got to talk about each other instead of family and business matters. It was wonderful to reminisce and remember why we fell in love in the first place. Marvel has helped me grow in so many ways and is so patient with me. I will be forever grateful for him in my life.cropped-fonsecas_018.jpg

What would I do without him?

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Too cool to smile I guess;)

We also got to celebrate Engineer’s 9th birthday in July! He is growing up WAY too fast and it’s amazing how much he has changed in the last year or so. He has reached a new stage in his life and it’s been interesting to watch and then adjust as all our girls are really still in the “little kid” phase. It’s been really interesting to partake of Engineer’s wisdom as he has become much more expressive about his thoughts. Loving it and at the same time a bit of the Momma in me doesn’t want my little boy to grow up!

August was my birthday and though Marvel was travelling like crazy he made sure to set aside time to surprise me with Japanese food (my craving of choice this pregnancy;) and the kids and he just about wet themselves from the excitement of trying to keep the secret from me. The girls also threw me a “tea party” in which we had imaginary strawberry soup with carrots, strawberry cake and strawberry tea.

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Oh yeah, Engineer “rescued” a homeless kitten….pets….my favorite:/

I also spent the months of July and August planning our next school year and finishing up our immigration processes to get us all our Mexican residency. Immigration is always a headache for me, honestly, but it’s so nice to get it done and know that with residency we won’t have to renew everything EVERY year anymore. I also finished up getting Button’s Mexican and U.S. passports because Marvel was a sweetheart and got us a surprise trip to the U.S. to see my family in October!

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Engineer participated in a folkdance performance for the Mexican Indepence Day

September was the start of a new school year. I decided to wait to pick up my curriculum in the U.S. when we would go to visit (AKA: saving a BUNDLE on shipping costs!!) we spent September with mostly review and setting up and getting used to some new additions (Piano, Portuguese, and Button being more involved as an almost 2 year old). It was a very useful month because I was able to better pin-point exactly where each kid was and adjust many teaching methods and scheduling before we even got our new curriculum.

Also in September I went to the OB/GYN for the first time! Yes, yes, I know, I know, believe me I’ve had the lecture about pre-natal care…let’s just suffice it to say that I’m not a big fan of doctors in general, haven’t ever really found one I’ve liked here, would prefer a midwife but after finding out about the minimal qualifications needed for them and doctors in Mexico decided not to risk it while we’re here, and in all humility I have done this pregnancy thing a few times now and basically know what is normal for me and what is not. So, all that said we were able to go to a basic check-up as a family and everyone got to see the baby on the sonogram, which is always fun. We also found out at this appointment that we are expecting another baby GIRL! January 19th is the due date…though at this point this Momma would go for earlier J

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Cousins! Actually only a few of them….

In October we continued our concentration on school and then the kids and I got to go visit my side of the family in Washington State! It had been 3 years since we’d visited and we’d only seen my parents in the meantime when they came for Button’s birth and another visit here.

It was WONDERFUL to see my brothers and sisters, many of whom had begun their families since we last saw them, and meet all the new additions to the family. It was so great to reconnect with Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles and even my close friends from my childhood.

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Birthday Girl!

Fiesta got to celebrate her 6th birthday while we were in Washington, which was a special treat and she was delighted with all of the attention! As usual, she was sure to tell us exactly how she wanted her cake, chocolate and vanilla with PINK frosting! As her nickname implies, if it had been up to her she would have invited every person she had met in Washington to her party, but we tried to keep it to close family;)

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Two Cakes???!!!!

It was really a wonderful visit and so fun for my kids to feel more connected to family that we talk about all the time. I was once again reminded of what an exceptionally loving and supportive family I have. They work so hard to stay connected and help whenever they can even with geography in the wayJ

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Can we forget Halloween?

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Why is she touching MY cake?

November we got back into the rhythm of school and also got to celebrate Button’s 2nd birthday! She was a little shy with the attention but made sure everyone understood that is was HER birthday and HER cake and HER presentsJ We had a smiley face theme because Button’s favorite song is “If you’re happy and you know it.” And she is truly one happy little girl!

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Guess we were too hungry to take the picture when the food was pretty!

We also celebrated Thanksgiving with our usual turkey dinner and this year the kids each picked a dessert that they wanted to make. We ended up having a leak come through our entry way, coming from the upstairs bathroom, a few days beforehand. So even though I wasn’t up to inviting some of our friends to share in the festivities as we usually do, we did have the plumber join us for our dinner;)

As soon as Thanksgiving was over we started on our Christmas preparations, more with our homemade gifts than anything. We knew Christmas was going to be a little different this year. Marvel had been hearing mixed reviews on his Mother’s health over the past few months and we all wanted him to go and see her himself to see what was going on. Though business wise travelling during December would be the best, he really didn’t want to leave in case the baby came early. He had decided to go in March.

Then he realized that his passport had run out of Visa pages. He travels a lot for business and Visas are often needed. Normally this isn’t a big deal but because his country has different regulations on passports the only way to get more pages was to return personally to his own country and get a whole new passport. So we felt that with that and his mother’s health deteriorating, it was best he leave before Christmas and be back by the end of December.

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Oh the ever frustrating star!

That meant we would postpone our own little family Christmas a few days. The kids were very understanding and everything was arranged. This also meant we had to adjust our Christmas preparations so that we wouldn’t just be sitting around waiting for Daddy to get home. So we moved everything over about a week and saved our Christmas baking for the real Christmas day so that we would be so busy making and delivering goodies we wouldn’t have time feel like we were missing out.

We’ll have a day of cleaning up for Daddy’s arrival and our Christmas celebration and a final day of cooking and baking and wrapping and preparing for our celebration of Jesus’ birth on Monday.

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Can you tell we like glitter?

We’ve simplified our schooling during the last part of this month and had many more activities and reading together than usual. We had a study of snow (which is interesting to do in a place where it never snowsJ We’ve made ornaments and gingerbread houses and the kids made all their gifts by hand this year. The kids also made their own Christmas stories, which was fun to see their creativity. Between that and being involved in Christmas get-togethers with friends and a Christmas program at church we’ve really had lots of fun memories made.

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Some candy even ended up on the houses!

So that about catches us up. In the next few weeks we’ll be having our Christmas with our family, celebrating the New Year, making our family and personal goals for the upcoming year, starting back to “normal” school, and finishing up our preparations for our new arrival next month!

Stay tuned!…

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Christmas FAVES!

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I’m a little crazy about Christmas. I start listening to Christmas music in July or August and then stop in about February:)! Personally I think that traditions in general are SO important for families, but Christmas traditions are paramount because we are celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

Though I am from the United States, we do not do Santa at our house. My husband is from Africa and did not have the Santa Claus tradition growing up, and that helped us to make the decision of not holding that tradition in our own home.

At first I was worried, would I be “depriving” my children? The tie-breaker for me was when I was pregnant with my first child and was contemplating our first Christmas with him. I thought back through my child-hood and thought of all my favorite traditions of Christmas. A striking thought came to my mind…..there was not one that stood out to me that focused on Christ! Yes, my Christmases were wonderful and memorable and lovely, my parents worked so hard to make them that way. I do remember them teaching us “The reason for the Season” but I wasn’t focused on the whole reason we were celebrating, I was focused on myself.

Now, omitting the big fat man from center-stage doesn’t guarantee or children will grow up with any different sentiments than I did, but we’re hoping it’s a start. Also, I don’t like the lies, white lies are still lies to me (yup, no Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny either).

We also have committed to only one gift per child. So far, we’ve done pretty good with this one. A couple years we’ve had one small gift to tide the kids over til they got their “real” gift (yes, sometimes living internationally has shipping downfalls).  It’s SO hard to stick to this at times, and loving extended family definitely don’t follow the same guidelines 🙂 but the idea is to limit materialism.

So enough of the soap box, we are far from where we’d like to be but from the things we’ve tried and experimented with over the years these are our favorite traditions thus far (meaning, we’ve done them three years or more):

1. Christmas Tree Decorating-

I used to think this was a given, like every family in the world did this…haha! I know, small town girl. Now that I’ve “been around the block” a few times I treasure this tradition even more because of its symbolism. We pick out (or set up, depending on “real” tree availability ) the tree and decorate it together. We strive to use only the “traditional” Christmas colors of red, green, silver and gold. Then I read about the symbols that Christmas decorations hold. Sometimes I read the complete story of “Teach the Children”, (with less Santa emphasis) or sometimes we just discuss the symbols.

2. Christmas Cookie Party-

This has evolved over the years to the kids inviting their best buds (and their families) over for some sugar-cookie decorating. We bake several dozen sugar-cookies (trying for 6 for each kid) and make up several different colors of frosting and have sprinkles always (and sometimes nuts, raisens, chocolate chips, etc., depending on what’s available). Then we ask everyone to bring toppings to decorate with if they wish. Since for the majority of my children’s lives, we have generally lived around people that don’t bake (or own an oven most likely) I think it makes it even more fun because the invites really love the novelty! We’ve also done this as a pizza party (with smaller groups) and potlucks (with bigger ones). This is also great because our “Christmas Party” and “Family/Friend Gift-Giving” is done all in one event. We also try to always make enough cookies to give to friends, neighbors and those that we think just might need a bit of cheer.

3. Service-

This one is not to the level I would like it yet. We’ve done Caroling, anonymous treats and gifts, yard clean-ups, household chores for others and the like. We have found it’s tricky to do some projects with small children and be sane and safe. We really hope to amplify this tradition as time goes on. Ideas would be greatly appreciated:)

4. Christmas Devotionals-

Another evolving one, for the past few years we’ve been using thisbook as our main source for devotional inspiration. I really love it because it’s so simple and Christ-centered and gives inspirations rather than a script for the holiday. We strive to do one, focused devotional a week, starting in December, with a “project”/activity to go with it, usually self-reflective or service oriented.

5. Christmas Breakfast-

This is a tradition that traveled over from my child-hood. Instead of a big Christmas feast (though we usually do have something special and out-of-the ordinary for dinner), we do a big brunch. The fixings vary according to the ingredients available but every year but one we’ve had our Orange Rolls (recipe coming soon)!

6. The Biblical Christmas Story-

We may read excerpts as part of our devotionals but on Christmas Eve we try to read the entire Christmas story from the Bible (we prefer the Luke version in the King James Bible). Last year we had enough members in our family and a new baby, so we acted out the story. Though our shepherd (then 2 yrs old) kept getting distracted, we still had a memorable experience that I hope will become tradition!

7. Birthday Party for Jesus-

On Christmas Eve we have a “special”(meaning out of the ordinary) dinner and then have a small birthday party for Jesus. We make a white cake with white frosting to represent the purity of Christ. We also have a small wrapped gift box that we put in our “gift to Jesus”. This is a small paper, with which is written a commitment to one aspect of our life we will strive to change or improve upon, to become more Christ-like, before the next Christmas. This is one tradition my kids ask about every year.

8. Homemade Gifts-

Depending on materials available (and Mom’s availability and patience  ) we’ve done anywhere from making EVERYONE homemade Christmas gifts, to just concentrating on Grandparents. We’ve done many salt-clay creations, ornaments, games, bookmarks, picture frames, dolls, lamps, nativities, change dish, etc. What I love about this tradition is that the kids really start thinking about how to give of themselves in a way that someone will really treasure.

So, those are our favorites! We hope to keep refining them so we can make each year more meaningful. I would LOVE to hear about your favorite traditions, share with us how you celebrate this marvelous season!

Kid-Craft: Flannel Turkey

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This project turned out so cute I just had to share. We’ve been working on sewing during our handicraft time and this past week was a flannel project. My 5 yr. old wanted to make a pumpkin (pattern coming soon!) and my 8 yr. old chose a turkey. I made the pattern for the body and showed him how it would go together and he did the rest, meaning all the other details and sewing. It took him a total of probably 1-2 hours over the course of a week.  I will just add a pattern for the feathers and face or you can freelance it if you want. He also chose not to have wings but you could add them easily (even using the feather pattern). Here it goes, first time sharing an idea with a downloadable pattern and trying to explain what we did! I tried to take pictures but I would appreciate feedback so I can improve further pattern sharing:)!

Terms of Use: This and other patterns on this site represent our original ideas and work. Please do not redistribute, sell, or use this or any other pattern on this site for commercial use. Thank you!

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Instructions:

1.) Cut out pattern

2.) Use pattern to lightly pencil onto your desired flannel colors (we used orange for the belly and feathers, brown for the back and head, and red for some more feathers. Keep in mind that you are cutting out just one piece of flannel for each pattern piece (for each turkey you make), EXCEPT for the feathers. We used four feathers but you can cut out however many you wish, just remember that if you want your turkey to sit up by himself you’ll need him(or her:) to be balanced.

3.) Once pattern(s) have been transferred onto the flannel cut out all pieces.

4.)Sew together the belly and back first. The belly goes underneath the back, similar to a diaper. We sewed the front, then under-belly together and then turned it “inside-out” so that we could stuff it and then just sewed up the backside. (In the picture the belly is orange and the back is brown)

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5.) Tack (lightly, using small stitches) on the head just at the “neck” area so that it will stick up above the body a bit.

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6. )Tack on the eyes and beak onto the head.

7. )Sew on the feathers in a “fanned” fashion on the backside.

8.) Add any details you want (wings, feet, etc.)

9.) Set up your cute turkey to decorate for the season!

Pumpkin Rolls

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So, I know Halloween is over but wouldn’t it be cute to have one of these next to everyone’s place at your Thanksgiving dinner?

This is the one my 3 yr-old made and we had all of the neighborhood kids over to make them. Super fun and super easy.

Just use your favorite bread recipe. Set aside 1/4 of the batter (when you only have about 1/4 of the flour in so the dough is still rather runny). Dye this small portion green and add extra flour to make a stiffer dough to use as the stem.

Dye the larger portion of the dough orange. Make the rolls into large balls and roll them in cinnamon and sugar after you’ve put on the stem.

I wish I had taken a picture of the larger one I made. I made the ball and then stuck my thumb deep into the middle before sticking the stem in. It made it look more like a pumpkin, even after baking.

This was simple, fun, festive and the kids loved it!

Celebrate Spring!

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We started our celebration of spring with a some “flower power” pancakes!Image

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we do a lot of the “traditional” Easter customs on the first day of spring to keep Easter a bit more sacred. This year, in an effort to be budget friendly and lower the sugar intake of my kids I opted for more fun activities to celebrate spring this year with just a touch of sweetness. This is the “marshmellow bouquet” that the kids made for their Dad (after eating theirs of course!)

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Can you see the egg? I thought I was so tricky but my son found even the most well-hidden eggs in our hunt this afternoon!

What is your family doing to celebrate spring?