Merry Christmas to Me!

I got some quotes for my walls from Allan for Christmas. We ordered them from a lady on Etsy. Today he finally put them up for me and I'm SO THRILLED with the way they look! I picked the quotes out and I just LOVE them!

"I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess." -Martin Luther (as in 95 Theses, not King Jr.)
"All this He has done only because He is my good and merciful Father in heaven, not because I have earned or deserved it." -Martin Luther

And a couple cute pictures of my tiny chefs for good measure:
We made mushroom, chicken and broccoli risotto--MY FAVE!
They love to help! Per my New Year's Resolution, I've been trying to include them more. I used to cook/bake with GraceAnne all the time and after I got pregnant with Violet that all went out the window because I just wanted to "get it done." Now I have an older daughter who doesn't remember cooking with me and a younger daughter who has never done it at all. But that's okay, because the rest of our lives starts today! So now they are getting more involved and our evenings seem so much more rewarding.
And also per my NY Resolution, I'm going to sign off here and spend some time with my hubby and son before bed. I have a great family and it's my joy and honor to spend my time with them! :) Love and miss you all!


"Social Smiles"

this is a repeat for anyone who sees my FB page, but it's for everyone else.

"C'mon get happy!"

"Aww, Ma! You're too much!"

"Rock on, Momma! PAAAAR-TAAY!"

"too much excitement...I may have crapped my pants..."

LOVE those smiles! What a joy our tiny son is!!
You can tell these are taken with Allan's camera instead of my Nikon, but they're still cute.

They were both stretching!

She has a winning smile for sure. She has always had a very prominent personality, (quiet and STRONG), but it is becoming so much more evident and fun every day.

She'd rather be close to him than anywhere else. Unless GraceAnne is home and then we must play with big sister!

I love his little outfit. He looks like a skater dude :)

Awwww, sweet babies! They both sat on my lap while I was editing the pictures, (they were super dark) and she had her arm around him and was giving him kisses. She kept saying "MEEEE" when we saw pictures with her. When we got to the pictures with just Corbin she said, "BABY! Awww, Coh-bean!" and gave him a kiss on the head. I love these babies! Who could ask for more?!


Another warm January

Wow, God sure can paint a lovely sky, huh?! This was last week from our front yard, (Thank you, Nikon!) in the morning. I was sad the power lines were in the way, but now I think it adds a little something to it.

We got a new bed for GraceAnne's room. We weren't going to buy it yet, but we found a great deal on Craigslist and couldn't pass it up. It's adorable and matches their room perfectly. Violet will probably move in there in May.

Little Bears fan! I love these articles of clothing that all the kids get to wear! We've passed several things down from GraceAnne to Violet that will go to Corbin, too.

I love the break in the cold weather we get here in the month of January! It's so refreshing, but it does trick me into thinking I need to plant things. Good thing I'm a wonderful procrastinator or I might have seedlings freezing in February. One of these days I'll have a green house. We have been taking advantage of the warm weather by heading outside more. Today is dreary, but still going to be around 75 degrees. I can't do a whole lot outside today because I have to cook for church. Tonight is pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, mixed veggies and Jell-O poke cake for dessert.

Yay! She gets to ride again!
My tiny Vi and her daddy swinging.

We have decided to reclaim our yard! These ducks are much larger than we had thought and they poop turds the size of cat turds. Ducks also poop more often than cats, so you can imagine how much fun it was to go in the back yard! They are now locked off between the garage and the guest house. We'll build a new pond on that side of the yard for them. They keep "flying" over the top of the little garden fence, so one of my weekend project is to clip their wings.

She's so sweet, eating ice cream.

She's sweet, too :)

And he can't have any ice cream, but he is incredibly sweet, too! I can't believe it's been 5.5 weeks already. Next week is my appointment to make sure I'm healthy and see where my weight is, then there's no more sympathy for me! I made a milestone and I actually squeezed into a pair of jeans that are not maternity this week. They feel strange still, but it'll get better. I've got a LONG way to go, but I'm happy with the little bit of progress made.
Hope ya'll are having a great week. Love and miss you all!


One Whole Month!

Tomorrow is Corbin's one month birthday. WOW! How does the time go by so fast? It seemed to drag on and on when GraceAnne was a baby...went faster when Violet was first born and now it's whizzing past me. I think maybe I should stop having kids so I can keep time at this already too-quick pace. To hear Allan tell it, though...it's not related to the kids you have, but the number of years you've been on this earth.
What a happy boy! LOL Both girls are completely in love with him. I'm so glad, because I was worried about how Violet would take the transition. She loves her baby brother and likes to rub his head, give him kisses and calls him "soft." If for no other reason, she loves having a baby around because it occupies mommy and that means mommy can't run after her to make her stop doing something. So far she's managed to pull a dresser and a door on top of herself. She also has become very efficient at getting any and everything off of the countertops. Except EEK! She doesn't even have to climb to do that anymore! We've bred some tall girls!

Poor Violet has a horrific ear infection in each ear. She never said a word to me till this weekend. Thankfully she started her antibiotics this morning, so she should at least be able to go to school on Thursday. I feel so bad for her :(

Yeah...I got the batteries for my Nikon and I've been shooting photos with it and I *still* suck, so I guess I'd better read that digital photography book Allan got me for Christmas.

She was so happy to hold him, so why does he look so miserable!? Hahaha I think GraceAnne would rather be home with her baby brother and sister than anywhere else in the whole world. She's a great helper--forever fetching me baby accoutrement and getting snacks for Violet. She's excited to start sharing a room and asks us almost daily when she gets to. Methinks that sentiment may end quickly when we actually put Vi in there!
Violet has been sleeping lots! We have to lock her up in her crib, and thankfully she hasn't had the thought of climbing out yet. I can't imagine anything will be safe when she starts sleeping in a big girl bed!

My son is so cute and looks *exactly* like his big sisters. Violet is finally starting to look a little different than Rhiya and GraceAnne, (though there's still no doubt she's a Doyle!), so we'll see if this similarity with Corbin stays.

And despite the pictures above where he's screaming, he really is a very happy little man. He sleeps well and eats great and is calm and quiet, mostly. Of course, that's how Violet started too, so we'll see how long it takes before he starts making his own way in this house of women. Complacency doesn't seem to last so long around here! For now, though, I'm soaking up every second of his peaceful and sweet nature and loving every tiny kiss I can plant on his tiny nose.
I took them to the Dr yesterday because they are sick, so I just happen to know that Corbin is now 12lb6oz. WOW! That's nearly a pound a week! Really, I can't help but be proud of myself. I must make some pretty awesome milk. teehee!
Hope you're all staying warm and having a wonderful week! We love and miss you :)


CHEESE! (or in Violet speak, "CHEE"!)

A new use for a Snuggie! The big girls got Snuggies for Christmas. GraceAnne used hers to turn Violet into a...

Padawan! So cute!

Are you ready for this next picture? Appox 1 week pregnant.
OMG, NOT! I would DIE! Totally kidding, of course. I just felt slightly good that morning, (as opposed to typically feeling like a huge cow), so I had Allan take a picture. Then I thought it would be funny to make you all lose your coffee on your computer screens. I'm cruel like that ;)

My 3 cheese-balls. I'll be so excited when Corbin joins that group!

We found a Power Wheel on clearance and got it for the girls. They LOVE it! Now if the freezing weather would GO AWAY, (hello? we live in TEXAS!!), they could play with it a little more. Right now it has tiny icicles on it.

Corbin in his sleep sack. I love that thing!! It keeps him so cozy and he can't kick it off!

This is as close to cheesin' as he gets. Yes, the picture quality sucks, but as soon as my new batteries come in I can start using my Nikon again and get some good pix for everyone. I'm tired of everything being blurry or too dark.
Hope you're all having a great week! We love and miss you!


On to the Resolutions

I typically don't make resolutions on New Years. Everyone always talks about how theirs fail in the first month and that was my experience in my younger years, too. I'd make some outrageous resolution like, "I swear I'll get all my homework done before 7pm every night" or "I will stop cussing" and it just never happened more than a couple weeks. I haven't made a real resolution in years, but last year we did say we'd like to eat healthier in 2009 than we did in 2008. That was easy enough and we made the switch to a lot of organics that were just as convenient as some of the other stuff we used to buy--the kids love Kashi fruit and cereal bars, I always buy milk made from cows without the use of hormones, etc. We did start to fall off the wagon toward the end of the year because I was just so darned tired from being pregnant, (what a joke, right?! Just when we need to be eating the healthiest we're too exhausted to cook anything!), but we're hopping back on.

And I've discovered that's the trick. So many times we're so hard on ourselves. We fall off the wagon for a month and eat a lot of frozen pizza and sugary cereals or cuss more than we had wanted to or don't do a couple worksheets and we throw our hands in the air and say, "FORGET IT! I don't know why I try." Well...a little bit of self-forgiveness goes a long way. Christ has taught me more about forgiveness this year and so I'm starting to learn to also forgive myself. STRIVE to be better, but understand that I am human and will fail sometimes and that's okay, as long as I dust myself off and try again. My mom used to always say, "if at first you don't succeed, try try again." So true.

So this year, God has led us in an interesting direction. He's showing us what He wants our lives to look like and it's EXCITING! I won't go into huge detail, because I'm not sure what all this will entail or how long it will take...I'm leaving the details up to Him...but I'll go over it briefly.

We feel like retirement is backwards. For the past 5 years Allan has been in school and we've moved across the country 2x in 6 years and we've pretty much been free to do as we please. His schedule was pretty lax save for 1 semester and the kids always had both of us for special events and we could travel when money allowed, because we had the *time.* He was, after all, retired. Now that he has a job it's not like that. Why do we all bust our butts while our kids are growing up so that they can have *things* and then retire when they leave? Wouldn't they be happier with a little less money so they can have our *time*? I realize that some people don't have the options we do...most people didn't retire at age 32. Most people can't survive on one income. Most people do not feel led to spend their time at home with their children. That's okay. We've already come to the realization we're not "most people." We're the weirdos.

So here's what God has had us mulling over for the last 6 months...what if Allan stayed retired? Since we DO have the option to stay home, shouldn't we take it? No, we won't drive fancy cars or be upgrading our house, but we'll have enough love and time for all the kids while it's really important. Furthermore, He's had us looking into buying some land and becoming homesteaders. Yes...this would tie us down. It would be a lot of HARD work. It wouldn't be fun most times, but it would be so rewarding and so purposeful. We've been so convicted through reading The Word and through various events that have taken place in this country this year and through just being fed up with the things this world calls "good." We want to be set apart from the world and do God's work. There are some details I'm leaving out, but like I said, I'm leaving those to the Lord to iron out.

So for the next year we'll be on a journey to make this happen. If it's God's will we'll meet resistance because satan just loves to put up road blocks and make us think God doesn't really want us to do that. If it isn't really God's will, then we'll ask Him to make that abundantly clear during our prayer times. After all that has happened in the last 6 months, though, we're pretty sure it is.

So we'll take you on our journey with us. We've already taken 3 steps to being more self-sufficient/natural.

The first step was getting ducks. We get 2 eggs per day from those ducks and have only bought 1 dozen eggs from the store since June.

The second step was making a resolution to eat more naturally. We're not upping our food budget, but we are committing ourselves to not eating out very much, (maybe 2x/mo) and to shopping for more natural/organic foods. I'm making meal plans and basing my grocery list on that. I am eager to get better at this, because I'm not fond of paying 17.27 for 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves. I'm looking into local farms to get our meat from.

The third is we finally got our recycling bins. Yes, most of you are shocked to hear we haven't been recycling, (I collected paper at home to take to school when I was a kid so it could be recycled instead of thrown out...I'm really pretty crunchy at heart), but it's such a PAIN down here. We have to get orange bags from the utility company and then they only collect 1x/mo. Too bad, no more excuses! We have 3 bins in our kitchen now and have been working on cutting down our footprint at the local dump.

I am really looking forward to the changes God is asking us to make. It will be scary sometimes, but mostly it's going to be glorious to be more in His will. And if we fall off the wagon here and again, we'll just stand up, dust ourselves off and hop back on. We know He'll be cheering us on ;)


The Year in Review

Copied and Pasted, (with my own answers added), from Mary's blog.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
looked for ways to serve the Lord instead of myself.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
We had resolved to eat healthier, and for the most part we did, but we also fell off the wagon since I was so tired from being pregnant.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
A high school friend.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
A direction, a focus and a renewed heart for keeping up with people.

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
December 13th...our first son was born with the most amazing birth story!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Trusting God to carry me through a hospital birth that I feared so much. Handing ANY outcome over to Him.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Continuing to wish people would just stop being so...HUMAN. Haha. I want to be more forgiving and accepting, like Christ.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
nothing serious

11. What was the best thing you bought?
a van to fit all these kids! lol

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Allan, because he celebrates each new child as if it were the first, loves and cherishes me despite my craziness, is a great friend and has walked closer to the Lord than he ever has and is such a better man for it! (and we're a better family for it, too!)

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
My own. I hate how I can manage to see the negative in everything, but I'm praying on it and the Lord *is* changing me :)

14.Where did most of your money go?
Savings and investments. The bulk of our monthly cash goes toward food. We're total foodies!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
This new mission God has sent us on...it'll be so neat to see it all unfold and we're doing our best, (despite our excitement), to make sure it all unfolds when and how He would have it happen.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
I'm not sure...I'll have to think on this a while.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
I. happier or sadder?
Happier! We're in a house now...
II. thinner or fatter?
Fatter, but with good enough reason.
III. richer or poorer?
Richer all the way around. Amazing how that works out when we just lounge in God's will...

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
I wish I'd gone on more dates with my husband and had more family nights with my children.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
being on the computer. *sigh*

20. Did you fall in love in 2009?
I fall more in love with Allan and the kids every day. I fell in love with our new church family. I fell more in love with Christ as I learned that our relationship could be more personal.

21. What was your favorite TV program?
We don't have tv.

22.. What was the best book you read?
We started reading Wild at Heart which we both adore!

23. What was your greatest musical discovery?
That Christian music *can* be good and passionate and fun instead of just stiff and forced sounding!

24. What did you want and get?
A church family, a beautiful "new" house, a son!

25.What did you want and NOT get?
to move into my house before May, but it was worth it.

27. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 27 and I don't know what we did...Rhiya was here and we found out I was pregnant, so I know it was a good one!

28 What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Being more faithful in reading my Bible.

29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
I got to be the cute pregnant lady, FINALLY!!

30. What kept you sane?
Who says I was sane? Having hope in the Lord keeps me "sane."

31. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
none that I can think of.

32. What political issue stirred you the most?
healthcare. We have that lovely gov't insurance and you don't wanna get me started!

33. Who did you miss?
Mary!!! I miss her so much my heart hurts to think about it. My Mom and sisters.

34. Who was the best new person you met?
I'd have to say Mitch and Brandy. They've been awesome to us and we're grateful to have them in our lives. That said, everyone at Crosspoint has been a huge Blessing to us!

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:
Life is what we choose to see...do we grumble about the rain or praise God for the new life it brings? Do we grumble about the circumstances in our lives or do we choose to wait and see what He makes of them and praise Him for it? Our biggest curse and Blessing is our free will.

36. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"I made you promises a thousand times. I tried to hear from heaven, but I talked the whole time--I think I made you too small. I never feared you at all...I guess I thought that I had figured you out--I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about how you were mighty to save. Those were only empty words on a page, then I caught a glimpse of who you might be. The slightest hint of you brought me down to my knees." -What do I know of Holy by Addison Road

37. The best thing you discovered this year?
that God doesn't just love me, but he LOVES ME! He is crazy about me like I'm crazy about each of my kids. That He is crazy about me whether I deserve it or not. That He wants only good for me and cheers me on when I go to get it.

38. The best thing you lost?
a strong relationship with some people, but I'm hoping God can restructure those relationships into stronger ones if I use Him as a foundation.

39. What are you glad to leave behind from 2009?
Living in our guest house!!

40. What are you looking forward to in 2010?
Again, God's "new" plan for us. I am so excited to see where this leads us! I'm looking forward to being better parents, better spouses, better friends, better everything.