Archive for December, 2011


For the past several weeks, the soundtrack to my life has been a rotation of all the Christmas music I’ve amassed in the past few years.  The girls will ask to listen to it, too, and I noticed that they’ve actually learned a few new songs after hearing them so often.  We’re all ready for a change now.  It’s time to pack up the old CD’s and find a new playlist on the ol’ ipod.

Other than Christmas music, there has been another soundtrack constantly playing in the background for the past 2 weeks.

Jingle, jingle . . . jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle . . . . jingle . . .

With every step or slight movement of her head, Pendo has been announcing her presence.

Pendo really, really, really loved wearing jingle bells in her hair this month.  I was going to take them out after a week, but she begged to have them in a little longer.

Of course Rose asked for jingle bells, too.

Hers only lasted a couple of days, but that was enough.

On Christmas morning, Kait wanted some jingle bells, too.  Whenever I get to editing the pictures from Christmas, I hope to find one with her bells, too.

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!


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Whew!  December is rolling on, continuing to pick up speed.  No matter how much I’d like the days to slow down just a bit so I can catch up with many things (including alllllllllll the things I’d like to be blogging about), still December 25th comes ever closer.

All of our Christmas countdown calendars are telling me it’s only 3 days until the BIG day.

The snowflake/snowman countdown quietly beckons.

Mary is making her way around the advent wreath ever so slowly.  Almost there now, Mary.

The Kenyan advent calendar I got from Amani ya Juu is almost full.  All of the animals have taken their place, as well as the stars and the angels and even the wise men and shepherds.

Only the three last characters have yet to make their appearance.

It’s really coming.  In three days!

I’m ready.  The cookies are baked, the gifts are wrapped (OK, all except 2 but I’ll remedy that tonight), the suitcases are waiting to be packed, we’ve read many, many Christmas books, we’ve acted out the Christmas story, we’ve continued with all of our family Christmas traditions, we’ve traveled to WV to see my side of the family.  It’s almost here.

I’ve relished every special thing about this month, but my favorite thing again this year has been going through an Advent devotional every day with Kait.  I tried including the little girls this year, but they just don’t get it yet.  That’s ok.  It’s really nice to take some time each evening to think about the real meaning of this season.

Thank you for coming, Jesus.  Happy birthday from the Austin 5.

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the bus is back

What bus?

The Bethlehem Bus.

Last year when we brought out our Little People nativity set, Rose played and played and played with it.  Then she added in the bus.  I’m sure the real Mary would have appreciated a bus ride to Bethlehem rather than riding a donkey while being 9 months pregnant.

Maybe Rose “gets” that, but most likely she just likes putting things in cars or buses and driving them around.

After many hours of playtime with our Little People bus, it finally lost a wheel and had to retire to the Big Bus Garage (otherwise known as the garbage).   I found another little bus at a thrift shop a few days ago, and although it cannot carry as many passengers, it still does the trick.

Rose has narrowed it down to the most important players, in her mind.

Crammed in at the bottom is a little pink dog and a dog bed, then three people get some fresh air by riding in the sunroof . . . Mary, baby Jesus, and . . . a shepherd?  Yep.  Rose has tossed Joseph aside this year in favor of the shepherd who always carries a sheep in his arms.

So these three friends get a daily ride around our living room, and sometimes they end up at the inn keeper’s house.  Not the stable because that doesn’t have any doors you can open and close.

Here’s an ariel view as well.

It’s so funny to me how Rose plays with the nativity set in a completely different way than she did last year.  I know it shouldn’t surprise me.  She is a year older and does much more pretend play this year.

I just hope that the new little bus survives the next year so it can be around next December to help Mary arrive safely in Bethlehem once again.

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first of december

The first weekend of December was filled to the brim with traditions and celebrations.

First we put up our Christmas tree and each girl added the ornament that they chose for this year.

Then we had our annual Christmas campout where we light up the tree, blow up the big air mattress, watch a Christmas movie (or two depending on how long  you can stay awake), eat popcorn and other treats, and then we all sleep in the living room.

The next day we celebrated Pendo’s 2nd annual Adoption Day, the day she legally became an Austin.   On the actual day that this happened in Kenya, December 2, 2009, we celebrated by going out to dinner at our favorite mediterranean restaurant in Nairobi.  Now we just go out to a special place for pizza, one of Pendo’s favorite foods.

Sooooo thankful that we can celebrate this beautiful day each year!

This next picture is what you get when you ask a busy waitress to take your family picture.

Funny.   Not our best family photo, but it’s proof that we love celebrating Pendo’s addition to our family.

That evening Kait and Rose were invited to participate in a local holiday parade.  It was the warmest weather that we’ve ever experienced for this particular parade.  We actually stayed until the very end, which we NEVER do because it’s usually so cold.

I decided to leave my camera at home and rely on my phone to take some pictures.  Let’s just say I won’t do that again.  None of the pictures were any good.  Kait enjoyed walking with her Girl Scout troop, and Rose insisted on pulling her wagon instead of riding in it while we walked in the parade.

More celebrations to come.

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tea for two and soup for you

Wow.  December is flying by.  We have many traditions that we celebrate during this extra busy time of year, and I simply cannot keep up with editing pictures and blogging regularly.  Want to know a not-so-secret-secret? I usually take an hour or so each week to sit down, edit pictures, and write a few posts all at once.  So here I am saying I don’t have time to blog, and there will be a few posts in a row since I have some time to work on it this morning.

First of all, catching up from right before Thanksgiving  . . .

Pendo was invited to a friend’s house for a tea party.  Even though we have a house with three girls, this is the first official tea party that we’ve been invited to.  Pendo was really excited to get dressed up and go to A’s house.  A’s mom had kindly prepared some delicious muffins and had set a sweet little table for tea.  This was a first time for all of us.

Even the dog wanted to join in.  She is a girl, after all, and she did get her chance.

The little girls had such a fun time drinking their “tea” and hopping around the room.

Pendo particularly enjoyed the muffins and grapes.  Between bites she and A had lots of fun looking at all the toys and bouncing on the bed and dressing up the dog and then later building a fort on the couch.  They were having so much fun that I didn’t get a good picture of the two of them together.  I was trying not to use my camera’s flash, and all the pictures of them together are blurred a bit because of all the bouncing fun.  🙂

Pendo had a blast and can’t wait until her next invitation to a tea party.

Immediately after the tea party, we rushed back to Rose’s school for a Stone Soup celebration.  Rose’s class spent a few days reading some different versions of the Stone Soup story, and then each of them decided to bring a veggie to add to a big soup pot so they could make their own class “stone soup”.  The families were invited to come and share their soup.

Pendo preferred the crackers because stone soup has,  you know, vegetables.

Rose didn’t mind digging in to her stone soup.  Doing this with her class made her more willing to eat some veggies that she would normally try to avoid.   Maybe we’ll try this at home the next time we have soup.   Letting each little lady add their own ingredients might actually encourage them to eat it.  🙂

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almost there

Rose has been asking for us to help her stop sucking her thumb at night.  I wanted to make sure that she was really ready to give it up, and after she asked for help for the 4th time we made a chart.

She gets a sticker every nap time and night time that she doesn’t suck her thumb.  I remember hearing sometime in my life that it takes about a month to break or create a new habit, so we made her sticker chart accordingly.  30 days without sucking your thumb = a trip to Build A Bear!!

She’s almost there!

This picture is actually a couple of days old.  She’ll make her goal on Friday!!

With the exception of one night in the middle of the month, she gave up her thumb cold turkey.  She just decided she was going to do it, and she did.  Kait did the same thing at about the same time.   She also got to go to Build A Bear.  Seems to be great motivation for my girls.

Looks like Rose will be creating a new friend this weekend.  I’ll be surprised if it’s a bear.  She has big plans to add yet another dog to her stuffed dog collection.

Way to go, Rose!  Love that determination!

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happy update

I’m happy to report that the orthodontist’s office told us today that a replacement retainer is SO much less than we expected!!  Only about 5% of the original amount!  Yay!

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