Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's A ...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Jingle Bells!

One of our favorite gifts this year was a digital "Flip" video recorder from Steven's parents. We're thrilled to ditch the ancient video tape recorder that we never pulled out, and finally take videos that can be uploaded on our blog. So here's our Christmas greeting from our three little singers:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Card 2009

From our family to yours:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Isn't This Virginia?!

As you probably already know, I spent a large part of my growing-up years in Michigan where winter equals snow. To the chagrin of my snow-loving family, I grew to despise the snow. For starters, I can't stand being cold; and the wayward snow finding crevices between my wool socks and snow pants drove me crazy. As I got older, going out in it triggered my asthma; and the presence of it often meant interruptions to my social calendar. You had to shovel it, wade through it, drive in it, and clean what was tracked into the house. I'm a summer girl all the way. To add to the many reason I adore Virginia, when we moved here I was thrilled to discover that they usually receive only a couple of snowfalls a year, most melting within a day. It's the perfect amount, just enough for my kids to get to play in it a bit with no serious repercussion.
The autumns here are long and usually there is no snow until January. Last year it was 70 degrees on New Year's Day....ahhh. So we were very surprised when we got some snow at the beginning of December. You can see my ecstatic children enjoying the whiteness:

But our winter story doesn't end there. This past weekend we received 21, yes, 21 inches of snow. The local radio stations were calling it a blizzard for the Virginia history books, but because it arrived sooner than warned my children we 30 minutes away at my parent's home when it hit. Donning our Michigan driving egos and dodging insane, and I mean insane, Virginia drivers, we made it out to our kids and ended up snowed in at my parent's (without my camera). My children have never seen so much snow and their wiser aunts and uncles introduced them to the joys of snow forts, while the ladies stayed warm inside while baking Christmas cookies like mad. It was actually...dare I say...enjoyable.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Our Michigan Christmas

We spent the weekend celebrating Christmas with my husband's family. We had a great time; and as an added bonus, it was warmest Christmas visit we've had with temperatures in the high 20's and 30's. I'm shamefully low on photos since I spent a large portion of the time off my feet trying to keep all my mother-in-law's yummy food down. My sister-in-law, Autumn, is due with her second baby 8 weeks before me so we enjoyed lots of good pregnancy talk. They had recently found out that we'll be getting our first nephew on that side!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Welcome Home Gift

My dad has poured countless hours of time using his excellent construction skills to save us thousands of dollars as we have slowly renovated almost every room of our house. But we saved the biggest project for last...
For those of you who have not been in our home, I wish I had more "before" pictures show you. But trust me, this room was in need of some serious help. One of the biggest parts of the project was that I really wanted to blow out a couple of walls to take the "window to the dining room" an open counter pennisula instead.
The same week that I became sick was the week that we had started finally renovating our kitchen. It worked out nicely that my need to move out of my home because of my illness got us out the way of the construction.
So think of it like an HGTV show.
Picture me as the designer who had all the big ideas and never lifted a finger to help.
Picture Steven as the hunky host who is also obligated to chip in on the work.
And picture my dad as the entire crew of people who descend upon the home, work their magic, and make it more beautiful than you could have dreamed.
And here's the finish product, though I promise you it's far more wonderful in person:

Steven and I can't thank you enough, Dad!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

We had a great Thanksgiving with my parents and unmarried siblings. My mom make indisputably the best Thanksgiving food you could imagine, and I was in heaven for entire 1/2 hr. that it all stayed down.
Elijah was beside himself with sheer joy over a holiday that was centered around food. He was giddy the whole day as the food was being prepared; and he talked over and over about how he would be able to "stuff himself" with dinner.

Monday, November 30, 2009


We are finally home. When I got so sick and weak that I had to move into my parent's home, I would have never dreamed that we would be there for 7 whole weeks. I am extremely grateful for my family that did such a phenomenal job of caring for us, and I am extremely grateful to now be home again, sleeping in my own bed!
At 3 1/2 months pregnant, I am doing much better in the mornings and only get visits from the "up-chucking fairy" in the late afternoon and evening. Right now I'm bearing down for the long haul since my last pregnancy involved visits from this unwelcome fairy all 9 months. Honestly, I'm just thankful that we made it to this point.
In other baby news, I felt the first baby flutters last week and am thrilled to get to start experience the one and only thing I actually like about pregnancy. Adriana is melting my mommy heart every day with her extreme attachment to this baby. She talks to my belly repeatedly, kisses my belly, and tells me how much she loves her baby.
She'll hand me my water bottle and tell me, "This water is for the baby."
When she sees me eating she'll encourage me, "That food is going to go through the cord to the baby!"
To her, it's a "she"; no questions asked. We'll find out shortly after Christmas if she's right or needs a gentle let-down.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The End of Looking Back

So this is the end of our week of looking back at old blog posts. Kudos to any of you who hung with me as I walked down a piece of memory lane. God certainly has been faithful to a little family of 5 (and counting). Here's our last one from March 2008:
Once again it is time for traditions like wearing green, pinching those that don't (though we'll have to have a "no stranger pinching" talk before going grocery shopping), eating our yearly Irish Casserole, and taking goofy photos...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Looking Back 5

Here's an old post to put in the Christmas spirit. This one is from December of 2007:
Warning: If you still believe in Santa Clause, read no further.

From the beginning, we decided we didn't want our kids to believe in Santa Claus. It's not that we're Santaphobic. Our kids own a Santa hat, and enjoy television specials like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Our thought was that if they believe in both Santa and Jesus; then one day find out that Santa isn't real, what will they think of all we've told them about Jesus?
Here's where the tricky part comes. We didn't want our kids breaking the news to other children who believe and spoiling the joy that the other parents wanted to their children to have in that idea. But kids have big mouths. The solution we came up with was to tell our kids about St. Nicholas explaining that he was a kind man who lived many years ago and is now called Santa. We thought the idea was brilliant since then they wouldn't tell others that Santa wasn't real. We told them this; and inevitably, the questions came. Here a sampling of last year's conversation:
"So, Santa's real?"
"Well, he was a real person who lived a long time ago. But the Santa you see in the mall is just a regular man dressed up; the real St. Nicholas isn't around anymore."
"So, he's dead?"
"Uh..." (alarms go off in my head) "Well, yes he is."
"Who shot him?"
"Nobody shot him."
"Then how'd he die?"
"I believe he died of old age."
Fast forward to last week in Michigan at a party with my sister-in-law's two little nephews. (Yep, you see where this is headed.) The kids were all playing together when one of the little nephews came running out to his mother.
"Mom, is Santa Claus dead!?!"
So, I obviously had to have an emergency meeting with Isaiah. I explained that many kids believe in Santa, and that it's what their mommies and daddies want them to believe. I continued to explain that it is not our place to contradict them if they talk about Santa. I told him that it's probably better not to say anything at all about Santa to other children.
Indignantly he replied, "Mom! Why would parents tell their children something like that!"
Great. I've created a self-righteous Santa Claus expert. This parenting thing is so much harder than I ever dreamed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Looking Back 4

We're over half way done with our week of looking back. Here is a post from October 2007:
I distinctly remember where I was when I made the "Blankie Promise." I was a teenager living in Carleton, Michigan and was standing in our front room. I made the "Blankie Promise" while searching for the 94th time for my baby sister Katie's must-have-at-all-times blankie that always seemed to get misplaced. The promise went something like this: "I will never, ever allow my child to get so attached to a blanket or toy that I have to go looking for it before nap time."
This, along with many other prideful statements, went out the window the moment I actually became a mother. Whether I liked it or not, there was the 5 lb. afghan that had to go everywhere with Isaiah (that thing saw as many states as Isaiah did). There was the Eddie doll with hair that stuck up 4 inches high because Elijah had to put his fingers through it while he sucked his thumb and fell asleep.
For Adriana, I decided to try not to fight an attachment but to pick the attachment item. I bought a sweet, fuzzy blanket with a stuffed bunny sewn to it. It was cute and
small. But, of course, she could care less about it; she chose her own blankie. I put it in her bed one night and haven't been able to get it out since. She loves to snuggle with it and whimpered the last time I washed it.

And if you look in our attic you'll find a twenty-something-year-old, fuzzy pink blanket with worn edges that I still can't bear to see go in the dumpster.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Looking Back 3

Another look back from August 2007:
For anyone who missed seeing my eldest son stay on the dance floor during my sister's reception through every song (breaking only for a bite of cake), this video will show off a favorite activity of his. Like any other kid, my boys love music and love to dance. If you're in Northern Virginia and you pull up alongside a white Town & Country where everyone (including the baby) is bee-bopping, it's probably us.
I'm definitely no
cinematographer, but here's a little video:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Looking Back 2

More reminiscing with a post from June 2007:
My parent's fully finished basement is practically an apartment and is perfect for when our family spends the night. We stay in the basement bedroom with Adriana while the boys sleep on the pull-out couch in the basement living room. Last weekend when we stayed there, we put the kids down for the night and went upstairs to go play Scattergories. Elijah gave us a hard time about staying in bed, but finally seemed to quiet down. When our bedtime rolled around and we opened the basement door, we found that Elijah had fallen asleep...

... just not where we left him.
When I was pregnant the first time and looking down adoringly at my growing belly while dreaming of motherhood, I never pictured little children asleep on the top step or answering things like, "MOMMM...ISAIAH'S LOOKING AT MEEEEE!!!!" As a mother, you find yourself in the strangest situations or having to say the strangest things. Let me give you a few examples
just from today. How about: "You may not shoot a crayon out your Nerf gun." or "Please don't step on top of the bowl." or "Even when you're sixteen, I don't think you'll be able to jump up to the [cathedral] ceiling."
Now you'll have to excuse me; I need to go kiss some giggling boys in their bunk beds. Hopefully that's where they'll fall asleep.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Looking Back

In celebration of 3 years of blogging, we're doing a week of looking back of some of my early favorite posts. Here's one from February 2007 with my little men showing off their acting skills:
Last week, our old faithful computer died. It came so suddenly; though we had noticed it seemed to be losing its memory. Thankfully it died peacefully in its sleep mode.

We had a touching little funeral...

With some therapy, we believe the boys will recover from this crushing blow.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

3 Years Of Blogging

Even though I am officially into my second trimester, this over-the-top pregnancy sickness is still holding its own. This means that we are still living at my parent's home and that my days involve doing only the absolutely necessary things with the rest of the time divided between the couch, bed, and bathroom. So you can imagine that there is not much to document in our family life these days, and anything remotely worth documenting doesn't get photographed or recorded.
But since my laptop is a present companion on the couch, I thought it might be fun to go back in time. In 2 1/2 weeks, our little blog will be celebrating 3 years of existence. And while I may be a bit prejudice, I thought it would be fun to go back in time and repost some of my favorite old entries from the past three years. Here is the first blast from the past.

This one was from January of 2007:
I remember multiple days when I only had Isaiah that I was at a loss for what else to do with him. On these days, we might have run an errand or two, read all the books he owned, played with every toy in his room, and sung every song I knew. Then I would sit there with my 8 month old looking at me, as bored as a two by four; and I would wonder what to do next.
While having three kids as opposed to one is far more work, there are some things that are easier. Adriana is never bored. Although she has "alone time" and "mommy time" almost every day, one of her favorite things to do is interact with her brothers. She also spends long amounts of time content merely watching them play. She often sits munching on a
Lego (the big kind) while they build a Lego skyscraper. To her, they are the most interesting people.
The boys return the adoration. They greet her each morning or post-
nap time with "Hello, Beautiful." "Hi, Gorgeous." "Mom, Pretty Girl is up!" I thought, at the beginning, that she might be a novelty that they would eventually tire of; but not so. They worry about her constantly, beg to hold her, and dote on her hourly.
I caught an example of this with Elijah. When you're the little princess, you don't even have to hold your own teething toys!:

Once, I asked Isaiah what he was going to do if some boy liked Adriana when she was older.
"We're going to make him run!" was his reply.
I truly pity the first boy to have interest in our Adriana. For his sake, I hope he's a fast runner...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Past Photos

Some photos from our trip to the apple orchard/farm with some friends. Ignore the fact that this happened a 1 1/2 months and I am just now posting. Read the previous post for a full excuse. I was so sick last night that I didn't even get photos of my own husband's birthday party...ugh.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Breaking the Silence

If you've visited our blog in the past month, you've seen nothing new and might have even heard crickets chirping. There is a reason for the blog silence, and the main answer is the blog post immediately preceding this one. Two weeks after I found out that I was pregnant with our fourth child, I was visited by "morning sickness". But this version of morning sickness was like none I have ever experienced before. Let's just call it "all-day sickness" or we could refer to it as "can't-get-out-of-bed-or-off-the-couch-sickness" or perhaps "can't-even-stay-in-your-own-home-and-care-for-your-own-children sickness". But as I have walked through extreme fatigue, tests to find out if I had Epstein Bar, reactions to nausea medication, and becoming best friends with the toilet, God has been as faithful as ever. My parent's opened their home to us when I could no longer take care of my other three children; my brothers and sisters have served me in more ways than I could count; my husband has become Superman, juggling so many responsibilities and still caring fabulously for me; and my Savior has brought Scripture to mind and truth to bear in my heart.
We're still at my parent's, and I'm still quite sick. But we're praying this all subsides a bit as I approach the end of my first trimester in a week and a half.
So I'll leave you with some photos of my Lightning McQueen racer, my Tow Mater mechanic, and my Little Red Riding Hood and with a verse that has greatly encouraged me.

"There is great gain in godliness with contentment." ~1 Timothy 6:6

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ready or Not... I come!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Matching Cousins

My cousin, Jessica came into town with her husband and daughter. We had fun playing volleyball, shopping, and chatting. My kids were crazy about her one year old daughter. They chased her everywhere!
Jessica and I bought our girls some matching shirts (why do females seem to have an obsession with the cuteness factor of "matching clothes"?) and pulled out the camera:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

West Coast Trip

Allow me to rewind an entire month and go back to the West Coast trip Steven and I enjoyed in August. We started out in San Francisco, California; then headed up to Astoria, Oregon; and finished off in Portland, Oregon. Some highlights of the trip were (I'm feeling so lame that I'm actually going to bullet point these):
  • having a picnic lunch at a beach overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge
  • sipping clam chowder at Fisherman's Wharf
  • walking miles all over the hills of San Francisco and eventually being rescued by cable cars
  • staying at a wonderful hotel in Astoria that actually used to be an old Cannery
  • the wonderful gift of a side by side couples hot stones massage (thanks Caroline & A.J.!)
  • acting like kids with childhood friends
  • seafood, seafood, and more seafood
  • tide pool hunting
  • antique shopping (Why must Oregon antiques be so much cheaper than Virginia ones!? I was trying to figure out ways to bring back large pieces of furniture!)
  • lattes, lattes, and more lattes
  • getting a ridiculously good deal on a posh Portland hotel

Saturday, September 12, 2009

More Beach Pictures

Some more photos from our family beach trip...

A tent and kiddie pool on the beach made a nice sun-free option for the little people while the mommies sunned themselves:

I ran for the camera as Carter showered hugs on one of his favorite people:

This is what happens when your 6 year old is kidnapped by his teenage aunt and uncle; at least his "gang sign" consists of the sign language version of "I love you". I love you, too, my little rapper:

Vacationed out:

Playing wave tag:

Josiah and Stephanie arrived at the end of the week to make a grand total of sixteen:

Now for a more typical Helms photo. Allow me to point out my two favorite things about this photo. First, you can see how nicely my new sister-in-law fits in with the crowd. Second, I love the way my nephew is looking up as if to say, "Why me, God?":

Josiah and the fabulous Stephanie:

Christine, Matt, and Carter:

Two of my favorite people:

Each of us played a different character from a different country for the Murder Mystery night. The burning question was "who done it?":

Midway through Murder Mystery night, we had a victim. A table knife is a depressing way to have to go:

So Dad, a.k.a Crick Watson from Australia, was dead. No doubt you can hardly handle the suspense of who the murderer turned out to be. But no fear, with our astute detective skills, we did wrap the case up in the course of three hours- over a delicious slice of cheesecake, no less. My own dear husband, Magnus P.I. from Dallas was the guilty party. So now, I suppose that means I am sleeping with the enemy.