2 Bigs + 4 Littles under 1 Midsize Roof = Life As We Know It

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The Season’s Greetings

Merry Christmas! For many, many reasons, we did not send cards out to friends and family this year. But we absolutely LOVED all of the cards we received anyway—so much that we covered the inside of our front door with them! (Look closely, and you might see yours somewhere in our collection!) Well, almost covered anyway. (See the space at the bottom? There’s a little room left if yours didn’t make it into the mail yet.) 🙂

I didn’t have a lot of time for blogging this holiday season, but as a throwback to my Christmas carol countdown of last year, I thought I’d share one of my new favorites this year—God Bless Us Everyone, sung by Andrea Bocelli from his My Christmas CD:

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I hope you find it meaningful, too!

December 24, 2010   No Comments

A Half-Dozen …

… fun facts about Kennah:

1. Her first name is the Irish feminine form of “Kenneth,” which means “handsome.” Her middle name is Maire—a playful spelling variation (also Irish) on the name Mary, which features prominently in her ancestry.

2. She loves Cinderella (the movie—and the many books we’ve found based on the traditional tale).

3. The above image—which I call “Sleeping Beauty” (I know, wrong princess)—is one of my favorite photos I have ever taken of her. Here, she is 3 1/2 years old and totally sacked out (in all of her finery, mind you) just before her cousin’s San Diego wedding.

4. Her personality can best be summed up by the slogan on a Tinkerbell T-shirt given to her by another cousin: “Sassy but Sweet.” (Which, by the way, is essential to her survival in a house full of brothers.)

5. Her favorite color is pink—or, more precisely, Pinkalicious, as in the book by Victoria and Elizabeth Kann. To hear her “read” (a k a “recite from memory”) the book, click the audio button below:

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6. She is 5 years old today! Happy birthday, Pretty Princess!

November 12, 2010   4 Comments

A Half-Dozen …

… fun facts about Keillor:

1. His first name was borrowed from the last name of author and radio host Garrison Keillor, of Lake Wobegon Days and A Prairie Home Companion fame. (It’s pronounced KEE-ler.) His middle name, Steven, is of Greek origin and means “crown.”

2. He loves Cars (the movie) and cars (toys with wheels).

3. In the above image (taken earlier this year), he’s wearing a much-loved and much photographed outfit first captured on film when his dad wore it in 1969, and then worn for special photos by his brothers Kellen (in 2001) and Kerrick (in 2004). This photo is also a reminiscence about something more than the outfit: his hair. Today, Keillor is bald, thanks to a head-lice scare at our house last week that made Shawn panic, whip out the clippers and shave all the boys’ heads—including his own. (Kennah and I escaped the same fate by opting to endure vinegar and tea-tree oil treatments.) In addition to being bald, Keillor is a little banged up, having fallen in the backyard and bumped his head right after his haircut. He acquired a sizable goose egg, which, combined with his lack of hair, has rendered him cute in a way that only a mother could love.

4. He memorized his first poem this year (“Love That Dog,” by Walter Dean Myers—click the first audio button below to hear him recite it) and can belt out the ABCs with the best of the preschool set (click the second audio button below to hear his latest rendition):

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5. His favorite color is yellow, which matches his sunny disposition. Oh, he can frown, but it’s easily turned upside down. 🙂

6. He’s 3 years old today! Happy birthday, littlest Little!

November 9, 2010   4 Comments

Costumed Cuties—Halloween 2010

Kellen as a Union soldier—complete with a Dad-made musket.

Kerrick (a k a Mysterioso the magician).

Kennah (the cutest Raggedy Ann ever in a costume I made 12 years ago for her cousin).

Keillor as a super-cute superhero.

November 1, 2010   3 Comments

Timeline: Tying the Knot

Sonya and Shawn Hemmings; Sept. 2, 1995; The Farm at South Mountain; Phoenix, Arizona.

I would say that I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since Shawn and I were married, but when I see how young we look in this photo (fewer wrinkles, more hair!), there’s no denying that a bit of time has passed. 🙂 It was a hot day for an outdoor wedding (just ask our friends and family members, who kindly indulged us), but we wanted our wedding to mark the seventh anniversary of our first date—and it did! Most of my memories revolve around all of the handmade touches brought together on this day: With the help of several friends and my sisters, I sewed my dress, fashioned Shawn’s ring, designed and hand-lettered the invitations (which featured a decorative molded-paper cover), and cross-stitched bookmark favors for the guests. I know, I know—so over-the-top. What can I say? The things you do for love when you’re young and carefree with maybe a little too much spare time. . . . 🙂

September 2, 2010   6 Comments


In celebration of my second son’s eighth birthday today, I’m posting an acrostic that reveals a bit of his personality and what I love most about him. 🙂

Kidder (loves jokes)
Ebullient (overflowing with enthusiasm)
Rascal (mischievous)
Reveler (life of the party)
Ingenious (see the 3D stars he made from magnets—without instructions!)
Comrade (friendly and loyal)
Keeper (I can’t imagine life without him!)

August 27, 2010   2 Comments

Bye-Bye, Babyhood

Sometime during the past month and a half—don’t ask me exactly when—we reached a milestone around our house: Our diapering days  officially ended. Now you might think that when Keillor—age 2 1/2 and the youngest of our four children—made the transition to wearing “undies” (his word) around the clock,  it would be a big deal. Such a momentous occasion, you might say, is certainly worthy of a paragraph or two in the journal I started for him before he was born—or at least a one-liner in his baby book. And you’d be right. (Note to self: FIND Keillor’s journal and baby book and write something—anything—in them.) Did I mention he’s our fourth child? Best intentions aside, I definitely suffer from that syndrome you hear about—you know, the one in which the mom painstakingly documents every detail of her first-born baby’s life and then slacks off just a little more with each subsequent child until the last one is lucky if his birthday makes it onto the calendar each year. (Another note to self: HIDE all other siblings’ journals and baby books.) 🙂

The thing is, life’s been a little busy lately, and it really does seem like the whole thing happened rather suddenly—literally overnight, in fact. The truth is that we probably kept Keillor swaddled and Velcroed in his little bumGenius-brand cloth diapers a bit longer than we  needed to. So when he fell asleep late one night recently with nothing but his favorite Lightning McQueen briefs on under his jammies and woke up completely dry the next morning, I had one of those forehead-slapping, “duh” moment as I realized he’d actually been waking up with a dry diaper every morning for a few weeks. And that’s when I surprised myself by getting a little sentimental about—of all things—the diapers.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been looking forward to this time for about five years. That’s how long I’ve been laundering a load of cloth diapers every two to three days. With both our pocketbook and the planet in mind, I made the decision to use cloth diapers when our third child—Kennah, now 4 1/2—was born. And after using the same set of diapers on both Kennah and Keillor, I like to think that all of my effort did save a couple thousand dollars (for us) and a little landfill space (for the Earth). At the very least, I’m crossing my fingers that we’re kind of close to even-steven in both regards after using disposable diapers on our first two babies. 🙂

So why the wistfulness? I’m sure it has something to do with what the diapers symbolize: babyhood. Or, more precisely, that that fleeting period of time is, in fact, over for our family. (Don’t tell Kennah. As our only girl, she hasn’t completely given up on the idea of getting a sister someday.) Sure, it took some work to wash the diapers and hang them up to dry on our backyard clothesline every other day. But after I had a system down, it was actually kind of satisfying to look out the kitchen window and watch those pretty pastel colors pinned up and swaying in the breeze. Or to see them—on the rare occasions when I managed to fold them and put them away—stacked neatly in their cubby beneath the changing table.

In addition to the nostalgia for what is no longer, my misgivings might also be a little bit about the uncharted territory that lies ahead. As I let go of the diapers, what other—maybe more demanding—parenting challenge will take their place? (We are, after all, entering the tween years on the other end of the childhood spectrum.) If you already know, don’t tell me. I’m sure I’ll discover it sooner or later. And chances are, whenever I happen to realize that the next milestone has passed, I’ll want to write about it in someone’s journal or baby book—if I can find them. 🙂

I’m sharing this post in the Simple Lives Thursday blog hop, hosted by four bloggers, including my friend Wardeh Harmon at www.gnowfglins.com. Click here to see what everyone’s sharing today.

August 18, 2010   1 Comment

So Long, Summer

While the heat is still with us—and will be for several more months—the dog days of summer are drawing to a close. We started our full homeschooling schedule last week, and this morning, Kellen and Kerrick bid their best canine friend (our puppy, Sweetie) farewell before heading out to the first day back to their once-a-week, school-away-from-home program. As you can see, Kerrick was a little more broken up about it than Kellen was. 🙂 Regardless of seasons and schedules, we plan to continue the dog days around our house—spending plenty of time taking Sweetie on walks and teaching her tricks, as well as digging deeper into the stack of dog books on our read-aloud list. We just wrapped up Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls (look for a future post on that experience), and next on the list is a little-bit-lighter title: The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog, by John R. Erickson. I’m pretty sure our dog days will last well into winter. 🙂

August 12, 2010   2 Comments

Fancy Fun With Figs

I did it! Two weeks ago, I wrote about wanting to make a fig tart with fruit from the trees of family members (see Fun With Figs). And a little more than a week ago, in honor of Shawn’s birthday and at his request, I actually made it. I followed a recipe in Rose Levy Beranbaum’s cookbook The Pie and Pastry Bible, substituting sprouted whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose flour it called for in the tart crust. We thought it tasted like a fruit-infused tiramisu—especially on the second and third days, after the tart crust had moistened from soaking up the marsala-flavored mascarpone filling. It was the most gourmet item I’ve made in awhile. The process was time-consuming and required focus (something that’s often in short supply around our house!), but it was worth the effort to have something special to celebrate Shawn’s day. And I don’t even think he minded that I refused to mess up the masterpiece by poking 44 candles into it for him to blow out. After all, he’d already gotten his wish. 🙂

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

August 3, 2010   3 Comments

Summertime Style

Ever since her brothers got their summer haircuts in June (see Boys of Summer) and several of her friends began to sport shorter hair, Kennah has been talking about having her own hair cut. At first I resisted; after all, it had taken her tresses quite awhile to get to the middle of her back, and we’d only trimmed it once in her four and a half years (see Girls Just Wanna Have Fun). But after almost a month of daily swimming lessons and other pool fun, her blond locks were showing the effects of the chlorine and turning into a tangled, sticky mess. So this morning we did it! We made sure that we would still be able to pull her hair back into a ponytail or braid it at its shorter length, and then we started cutting. I hadn’t intended to go quite this short. I always forget that wet hair springs up a little as it dries (just ask my sisters, on whose bangs I grew up practicing my hair-cutting skills!). But Kennah is thrilled with it and even let me style it a bit with the blow drier and some hair clips. It’s a good thing I took this photo right away, though, because a few minutes after I did, I noticed that she had taken the hair clips out. 🙂

July 21, 2010   1 Comment