Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Program

Last Sunday our children & teens at Bethel presented a Christmas program called Come as a Child.  I played the piano and Elaine & Nolan were to participate in two of the songs.

We had issues with our kids.  I could tell from the moment they woke up that they were not going to perform well.  I should preface this with the fact that Elaine missed three Sundays because of illness and travel, and then she was promoted to a different class (and they were singing a different part of the song).  But as the piano player I had a book at home and we tried to practice.  Sort of.  I totally forgot that she was supposed to learn a second song.  So I already knew that one was going to be a flop.

During the dress rehearsal Elaine didn’t particularly want to sing.  She wouldn’t stop holding hands with her friends.  She was picky about her seat and fussed with her friends when it didn’t work out right.  On Sunday after the initial song she stood there and cried because Selah “sat in the wrong seat.”

When we arrived at church I realized the diaper bag had been forgotten so Ben ran home for it.  Nolan whacked his head on the platform wall and was clingy after that.  I couldn’t get him to go sit down, but I had to play the prelude and Ben hadn’t returned yet.  Pastor took Nolan to sit with the kids, and Nolan threw himself on the floor in a fit because of it.  Ben ended up holding Nolan while sitting behind Elaine to help the little kids behave.  Nolan didn’t even attempt to sing.

Elaine got in a stare down with Ben and everytime he told her to sing she started yawning.  She almost fell off the platform three times.  It wasn’t funny when it was happening {and she has been disciplined for it} but I’m sure it will be funny in a few years.  Here is a video of the “Finale” song.

Elaine and her friends were dressed in their Christmas dresses and looked so festive!

Christmas Belles
Selah, Elaine, and Adelei

Christmas Belles
Nolan wanted in on a picture.  He is the only boy – the closest ones are Nehemiah, and Gabriel (age 5).  He does a lot with these girls!

Christmas Belles
OK – not really sure what Nolan is doing to Adelei.  Her dad had better watch out!

Christmas Belles
Sort of…a good picture?!?

A Tale of Times Square

This is a long post.  So grab your cup of cocoa and let me tell you a Tale of Times Square.

A couple of weeks ago we made a trip into Times Square.  It was one of those rare Saturdays when there wasn’t a million things on the schedule, the weather was not {quite} bitter cold, and we were all healthy.  This was the twins’ first trip to Times Square.

Elaine and Nolan by Train Stop

Our neighbor runs one of those vendor carts in Times Square that sells t-shirts, hats, scarves, and NYC memorabilia.  I wanted a couple of NYC items to use on our display table on deputation.  It should have been a simple, easy trip into Times Square.  It ended up being a seven hour excursion.

First, we were using a new stroller.  It’s a double-wide, which isn’t the greatest idea for the packed sidewalks of Times Square.  But it was our lighter stroller and the easiest to get down the train steps.  About halfway to the train stop I realized I had left the Ergo baby carrier at home (so that Nolan could ride and we could “wear” one of the babies).  Ben ran home for it, and of course it wasn’t where I told him it would be.  It was only the beginning of a series of delays.

The closest train stop to us is the end of the R line, so we can always get on a non-crowded train very easily.  We enjoyed a nice ride into the city.  When we got off the train we realized that things were different since our last excursion into Times Square.  They are doing a major transformation project on the Broadway plazas and pedestrian areas, so several sidewalks were closed off, and the others were narrow and packed.  We had trouble maneuvering through, but we finally made it to the other side of the street.

image (1)

Our next step was to actually locate our neighbor.  We didn’t know exactly where his cart was located, but we assumed he would be working it since it was a Saturday evening.  We walked up one side of the street, and back down the other.  Elaine was getting tired.  Nolan was riding on Ben’s shoulders (and turning into a plumber…I heard lots of snickering behind us), and he was falling asleep.  We put Nolan into the stroller, and I put Nehemiah into the Ergo.  It was getting darker and colder and we were getting tired, but we still hadn’t found the vendor.  Liberty happily slept through all of this, and everything that happened next.

I realized I could text a friend who might know where our neighbor’s cart was.  Sure enough – in front of Toys R Us – nearly the end of our big loop around Times Square.  If only we had started on the other side of the street!  We were actually still “lucky” to locate him, as they had closed to eat and his daughter (whom we had never met) was in front of the vending cart.

After getting the needed items we crossed the street, just one block away from the train station.  And that’s when it began.  It’s right next to the construction zone, so there were police barricades all along our right hand side.  Traffic was tight as the sidewalk was narrow.  And for some reason, the flow was moving in the other direction, but no one in front of us was moving.  We inched along and then the pack got tighter. 

We were stuck on the far left sidewalk, but the project is in a different phase now.  We spent a lot of time in front of Sephora – the store with the black & white columns.

One woman started pushing into me yelling “Excuse me!”  I said, “Where would you like me to go?  No one can move.”  She continued to push.  Elaine was in front of me and couldn’t be seen.  I told the woman that I had two children and not to push.  Her reply?  “I have five.  You just have to push through.”  And that’s what she did – shove through. 

Another guy behind me started telling me to move Elaine because he “had to get to class.”  I laughed and said I had nowhere to go.  I really don’t know what he expected.  I was starting to get separated from the stroller.  People started jumping the barricades and walking through the work zone.  Where were the police?  Then people from our far left started pushing through to get to the far right so they could hop the fences too.  And the pack just started pushing and getting angry.  I handed Elaine to Ben because I was afraid she was going to get trampled.  People nearly fell onto the stroller. 

At this point I was getting upset because no one cared that I was trying to protect four kids – including two babies – they just kept pushing and shoving.  I was getting worried.  We had been at least 35 minutes on this block already.  Finally someone behind Ben started shouting, “Come on, there’s kids.  Move.  There’s kids.”  Someone in front of me sort of cleared a spot.  I walked backwards pulling the stroller through the crowd while Ben pushed it with Elaine on his shoulders.  We finally made it through but couldn’t easily reach the train station without more of the same.

We took the first side street and walked over a block hoping to cut around, but we just ended up in the crowd coming from the Rockefeller Center.  We took the first train station we saw and just figured we would make some extra transfers. After successfully arriving on the platform we waited for about 15 minutes before our train pulled in.  It. was. jam-packed.  Absolutely no way we were fitting a family of six, including a double wide stroller, onto that train.  The next one was the same way.

Empire State Building at Night
When we rounded the corner we had a lovely view of the moon over the Empire State Building.  It was about the only good thing that came from the trip.

We left the station, tired, hungry, and sick of the crowds {yes – we wasted a train fare}.  We made our way back to the McDonalds (hoping to avoid Times Square again, but it was the closest option, and easier to get to).  I have never eaten in that McDonalds before.  It is the biggest restaurant – the hallway of tables (on the first floor alone) just kept going and going.  There was a TV at every table.  We ate supper to kill some time, and then went back to the train after rush hour had passed.  Though the train was not as full, we did stand for most of the ride home.

Train Ride into Manhattan

I’m glad we didn’t get injured or have any other major mishap.  I didn’t have to come home and cook supper.  Elaine was a trooper and did a lot of walking.  Nehemiah was mesmerized by the people and the lights.  Nolan and Libs enjoyed their nap.  But I will be just fine to not return to Times Square for quite a while.  And when I do, I hope it is sans kids.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

All Tied Up
Nehemiah got caught and tied up by the Lone Ranger!

Elaine getting married
She is “getting married”

Homemade Doughnuts
Homemade Doughnuts.  And can’t a person have a craving without everyone assuming she’s expecting?!?

Liberty the Clown
Liberty was playing with the kiddos in their room, and came crawling out to me like this!

Nehemiah Pulling Up
Nehemiah is pulling up on things!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Baby Bath Time

The twins are both sitting up now…making bath time even more fun!

Twins Sitting Up in Bath

Twins Sitting Up in Bath
Liberty has some serious fat going on…

Twins Sitting Up in Bath

Twins Sitting Up in Bath

Monday, December 16, 2013

Snow Day

We got snow last week.  And it’s still on the ground!  Its been a cold week, but the kids have enjoyed the white stuff.  It was a nice wet snow, perfect for making snowmen and snow balls. 

Snow Day!
We scraped the yard pretty bare to make our snowman, but it didn’t take long before the ground was covered again!

Snow Day!
Our neighbor has a vending cart in Times Square where he sells these hats.  He gave one to each of the kids.

Snow Day!
Nolan wasn’t happy unless he had two snowballs.  He held onto them for so long that they froze to his mittens!  If he dropped one, he cried for “’nother ball, Mommy” until I made him another one!

Snow Day!

Snow Day!
Elaine wanted to write her name in the snow.  The smile quickly faded when she realized that Nolan was standing on her “N”.

Snow Day!
I wrote Nolan’s name too, but he didn’t really care.

Snow Day!    Snow Day!
Catching snowflakes on their tongues!

“Normal” Playtime

Nehemiah and Liberty get kinda rough in play time.  Correction… Nehemiah gets rough in play time!  This is pretty “normal” around the house right now!

Normal Playtime

He also loves to try and get Liberty’s bow…

Kids Dressed in Christmas Outfits

Kids Dressed in Christmas Outfits

Kids Dressed in Christmas Outfits

Liberty usually just sits there and screams, but she is starting to get up her nerve and push back.  It’s funny to watch, but is getting annoying to constantly separate them because Nehemiah is acting like a dominant younger sibling!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Elaine's Nose Booboo
Both of my walking kiddos have inherited my klutz tendencies.  Elaine skidded across the sidewalk this week.  Her response?  “I never want to run again!”

Liberty Stuck in Pack N Play
After crying to sleep, this how I found Liberty when it was time to get up from her nap – wedged between the mattress and the bottom of the pack n play!

Nolan asleep sitting up
Nolan had a fun play time at the Bickel’s house – he fell asleep on the way home, stayed asleep sitting up while we unloaded the car, and slept through a clothing change and tuck-in for bed!

Nolan asleep sitting up

Twins playing with recylcing Boxes
The best things in life ARE free – like an empty spaghetti box while Mom puts away the groceries!

Twins playing with recylcing Boxes

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Jesse Tree Advent

The Jess Tree AdventLast year I came across something called the Jesse Tree Project as a form of advent/Christmas devotions.  I think it is basically what my mom did with us several years, but it wasn’t called that.  I knew my kiddos weren’t ready for it last year, but Elaine has been understanding & retaining so much of her church & Bible Time {morning devotions} lessons that I wanted to try it this year.

The idea behind this comes from Isaiah 11:1 – that Messiah will be a rod of the stem of Jesse.  We started with Creation and will explore the Fall, the major patriarchs, and some of the prophecies leading up to the Incarnation of Christ born in the manger in Bethlehem.  As I googled different Jesse Tree reading plans I found that many of them were Catholic.  Some go for more than 24 days.  The version I chose is simplified, and we read the stories from our children’s Bible in order to keep it understandable for Elaine & Nolan.

The Jess Tree Advent

I purchased my set of figures from Keeping Life Creative.  I love her feltie look printables, and the set was inexpensive.  I cut out and laminated the squares, and added yarn to hang them on the tree.

Because of church and activities, we haven’t been able to be consistent in doing the readings each night, so we have ended up doing two readings when we get to have family devotions.  This actually works out well because I have two kids who both want to hang an ornament!

The Jess Tree Advent

The Jess Tree Advent

It’s just one more way to take the focus off of gifts and materialism (which was shoved down our throats since before Thanksgiving this year) and onto the whole reason that we celebrate Christmas – the birth of the Messiah who would take the penalty for our sins.

Monday, December 9, 2013

{Seven} Months Old

This month I took the pictures on time, but I never got them posted.  Here are the twins at {seven} months old!

Twins 7 Months

Twins 7 Months

They are growing and developing and changing at break-neck speed now.  Each day seems to bring something new, and I am starting to be concerned about the fate of my Christmas tree.  It may not survive until Christmas Day! 

Both babies are sitting up now (though Nehemiah just started doing it, so it doesn’t really count for the “seven months” post).  Both babies are mobile.  Nehemiah does a really fast army crawl, finding his way into the bathroom, under the bunk beds, and getting stuck under the dining table.  Liberty gets around too, but she went from flopping around on her tummy straight to a true crawl (two days after turning seven months).  She has great form, but not much speed.

Liberty 7 MonthsApparently turning seven months old isn’t anything to smile about

We are fully immersed into solid food now.  It’s funny because Liberty is the smaller baby, but she eats about three bites of food to every one of Nehemiah’s bites.  She loves to eat just about anything, but especially green beans and sweet potatoes.  Nehemiah only opens up for oatmeal.  Otherwise my wide-mouthed, smiling, laughing baby enjoys teasing mom by tightly pursing his lips as soon as the vegetables come around.  He usually ends up eating his bib while Liberty finishes the jar of food.

Nehemiah 7 Months   Nehemiah 7 Months
This is “true” Nehemiah these days – always has his mouth full of something.  Where are the teeth?!?

Nehemiah 7 Months
Got the smile!

Both twins are wearing 6-9 month clothing now.  Liberty is short, so her pants are all long and her sleeves have to be rolled up, but she is fat so the smaller size is too tight around her tummy.  She has some serious thunder thighs going on!  I haven’t weighed them, but Nehemiah is still much bigger.  We “graduated” to a new stroller too – it was too heavy carrying two babies around in their car seats!

Bath time is now a race to see who can get the basketball or the ducky first.  I often look down to find Liberty “eating” Noah head first (we have an ark toy).  She absolutely loves bath time!

Nehemiah loves it when Daddy comes home or walks out of a room.  He always crawls over to give Daddy a big smile and say “please pick me up” with his big eyes!

Milestones:  On November 16th the twins made their first visit to the Bronx, where we hope they will spend the majority of their growing up years (as God leads).  We celebrated their First Thanksgiving (and Chanukkah), and had our first colds.  Yes – plural on the colds.  We are on round two now.  And they saw their first snow on Thanksgiving Day (though we had our first City snow day on November  12th).  They also got to meet Uncle Evan & Aunt Elise on Thanksgiving Day.

It was a whirlwind month with sickness and travel, so I don’t have anything else written down, and my mushy mommy brain can’t remember anything else significant to report.  So that’s all for now!

Christmas Cookies

I had to make cookies for the Ladies Cookie Exchange at church last week, so it was a good opportunity for the kids to help me.  They helped mix the dough, then we cut out cookies after bath time, and frosted them the next day.  I’m not a huge sugar cookie fan {they take so much work, and chocolate chip are better}, but I tried a new recipe, found here.  The cookies weren’t anything special, but the icing was great.  I despise frosting cookies {I’m a mess with frosting} but this frosting whipped up fast, glided on easily, and dried nice and shiny.  It was perfect!

Making Christmas Cookies

Making Christmas Cookies

Making Christmas Cookies
I turned from helping Elaine make some cut-outs to discover Nolan had been “stamping” his cutter all over the rest of the dough.  Roll it out and start over again… several times!

Making Christmas Cookies

Making Christmas Cookies
When he was done “sprinkling”, his fingers were stained red from licking and dipping into the sprinkles.  Don’t worry – I did not take Nolan’s cookies to church, and I threw away the remaining sprinkles!

Making Christmas Cookies
A little heavy on the sugar!

Making Christmas Cookies
“Kids were here”