Introducing Our Sixth Messy Baby!

We are so incredibly blessed to introduce to you our sixth messy baby girl!

Meet Violet Rae!

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Violet Rae

Miss Violet was born just over a week ago at the healthy weight of 8 pounds 6 ounces, our biggest baby yet. She’s absolutely perfect in every way with deep blue eyes, lots of dark hair, and delicious cheeks!

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Precious baby feet

As anticipated, her sisters can’t get enough of her!

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The triplets are especially fascinated with this new little person!

They constantly give kisses and want to hold her. So far, Lydia (our 2-year-old) has shown no signs of jealousy. The excitement of the bigger girls has rubbed off on her, and she, too, gives constant kisses.

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Lydia holding Violet for the first time. And Lydia suddenly seems so big!

We’ve captured many of Violet’s sweet sleepy smiles already.

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Smiling in Meemaw’s arms

And I’ve been having fun setting up photo shoots at home! 🙂

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Violet at one week old

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Violet in a violet tutu! 🙂

Yes, the baby messes have begun once again! And not only do I have several loads more laundry each day (how exactly does that happen with the addition of one tiny little person?), but Lydia has also decided that she’s a big girl now, ready to potty on the toilet. She noticed that the baby wears diapers, and she’s not a baby anymore! Translation: Now I have lots of toddler messes to clean up too! She’s doing well with it really, but there have been lots of little accidents here and there to mop up. Oh, the stories I could tell… Six messy babies keep this mama hoppin’!!! And, boy, do I look forward to this:

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Sweet sleep

In all seriousness, Violet is another miracle to us, a testimony that God is actively involved in our everyday lives. (Check out a little bit of our infertility history here to see what I mean!) SIX GIRLS SIX AND UNDER! Who would have thought?! No, it’s not all sunshine and roses; we’re tired and busy, and Violet can cry with the best of them. But in the midst of it all, I’m trying to enjoy every cuddle, each sweet baby sigh, and all the tender sibling moments. We’re so very thankful for our newest addition, for this precious family that God has given us.

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Change

Happy New Year! As we welcome 2015, it seems as though so many have made their resolutions, setting goals, and striving to live a “better” life this year (which can be translated in so many ways). I know I’m a bit behind the curve, but I’ve been reflecting a lot over the last few weeks, reading mommy blogs about goal setting, financial blogs about getting out of debt, foodie blogs about simple ways of eating cleaner, Christian blogs about setting a one-word goal for the year…

It’s that last bit that has sparked my interest: a one-word goal. Hmmm? What exactly does that look like? Focusing on one word throughout the year and really embracing all that it might mean?

And rather than choosing a word for myself, it seems as though one word keeps popping up on my radar:

CHANGE.

Change has chosen me. Yes, I realize that change is a part of every single year. It happens constantly, like it or not; we are all subject to it. And yet, I keep getting this nagging feeling that this year I’m supposed to recognize it, accept it, and even (gasp) embrace and welcome it. Sounds so clichĂ©. But I truly sense the Holy Spirit nudging me to notice changes in myself, in my marriage, in my children, in my circumstances. Some of these changes will simply happen, some will hopefully be the work of the Spirit in me, and some I must proactively seek.

Change.

It’s already happening all around me. My heavily pregnant belly has changed rapidly over the last few months. In just 3 short weeks (or even sooner), we will welcome a tiny new addition into our family. Eager with anticipation, I can hardly wait to meet her, but I know that she will bring about so much change in our lives and the lives of our children. A family of 7 to a family of 8. Five girls to six. The little sister will become a big sister, no longer the baby herself. And the biggest sister will take on more responsibility as she tries to help me care for the baby. (And believe me, this is self-imposed, not mommy-imposed; it’s just how she’s wired, just like me.) Our lives will grow messier yet again, burp rags galore, pacifiers abounding, blankets everywhere, and bouncy seats and baby gear to stub our toes on once more.

Change.

And just as our house will get a bit smaller, so has our mini-van! We no longer all fit in it! Yes, we’ve moved up to a 12-passenger van this year. Can you believe it?! Can I believe it? According to my title and registration, I officially drive a bus. A BUS! And you know what? It’s really great. The girls have tons more space, we can haul other people around with us (like grandparents and friends), and it rides really well. Did I ever, in a million years, think I would be saying these words, especially given our infertility history? Absolutely not. This is one change that I certainly wasn’t looking forward to, and here I am realizing how much better it is already for my family. A huge blessing.

Change.

There have been some other major changes in our household recently as well. The triplets turned 4 at the end of November. Annabelle, Madelynn and Chloe have grown up so much, even in the last few months. I can’t believe how big they are, how just one year of growth makes such a difference. In preparation for the new baby to arrive, we needed to upgrade the cribs-converted-to-toddler beds that the girls were still using. On the last night in their little girl beds, I snapped this picture.

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How wonderful and precious is this? Daddy can get them laughing like no one else on earth!

As I snapped shots of them all together, I couldn’t help but feel reminiscent. I left the room full of utter joy and at the same time, crying. Small, quiet tears. Because I remember bringing the triplets home, so tiny that they all fit into one crib quite easily. Because my babies are growing up so fast. Because I don’t want to miss a moment of it. Because I am grateful to experience these moments.

The next day ended with this:

Triple Bunk Beds

Still a bit rough with a few boards to paint and screw holes to fill in, but really fantastic!

Brand new big girl bunk beds, perfect for my girls who could not even fathom the thought of moving into separate rooms!

This meant a change in the nursery as well. Lydia’s room now houses her crib and another, awaiting the child growing in my belly, the one that she and her sisters kiss repeatedly throughout the day! And with the arrival of a second crib in her room, Lydia has learned to climb out of her bed and into the baby’s bed. Oh, the time I’ve already spent trying to teach her not to climb in with the baby, and the baby isn’t even here yet! It will most certainly be interesting to see how she adjusts to a roommate, especially one who wakes up to eat in the middle of the night. Will this work?

Just yesterday after intently watching our sweet Lydia (who is about to turn 2), my husband said to me, “It seems like she’s grown 6 months in the last 2 weeks!” And that says it all.

Change.

How could I speak of change and not talk about our oldest daughter, Emily, too? She’s six-going-on-sixteen. A first grader. She lost her front teeth early in the school year, and they have been nearly fully replaced already by her big girl teeth. I can’t believe it! She is still a sweet, innocent little girl, unashamed to laugh and love and be silly. But I see glimpses of a much bigger, wiser girl coming out of her. Sometimes she says the most profound things, and I am amazed. Yet within five minutes, she may have a sudden teenage-like hormonal response to something petty. It’s maddening and hysterical all at the same time. I see her changing before my eyes, and I am so hopeful for her future.

I’m absolutely stunned at how blessed I feel to have been given the privilege of raising these children, and yet I realize the weight of this heavy burden to raise them all well, showing them love, teaching them how to be loving adults, pointing them to a Savior who is so much better than me.

I don’t want to change who they are, but I hope to help shape them into who God created them to be.

THIS is an important job. THE MOST important job.

Change. I realize that I do have a choice in this. Change will happen inevitably. (I’ve even talked about change here.) But my choice comes in how I respond. This year, I am going to consciously choose to recognize change and, clichĂ© as it is, embrace it. I want to see my children, each one for who she is now and for who she is becoming. I want to actively change my marriage for the better. (Not that it’s bad, but we all know things can always be better!) I hope to find ways to change some of those nagging habits that I don’t like so much, and replace them intentionally with better things, like more prayer, daily Bible study, caring for others, writing more, developing my business… Now I’m starting to sound like I’m making resolutions.

Perhaps.

But the point is, I can choose change for the better. I can notice change around me. And I can change, through grace, in love.

I find so much hope in this: my God, who never changes, longs to do something new in me.

21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

-Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT)

And this:

Behold, I will do something new,

Now it will spring forth;

Will you not be aware of it?

-Isaiah 43:19a (NASB)

I intend to become aware of it this year. Will you notice with me?

November Combing Soap Challenge (and a Surprise!)

I haven’t been around a whole lot lately. These five messy babies are really keeping me hopping! But our busy lives couldn’t keep me from this month’s Soap Challenge Club! Amy put together a great tutorial on making a simple comb to use in a slab mold, and she showed both a serpentine swirl and a peacock swirl. I couldn’t wait to break out my mold and get crackin’!

Here’s a preview of the soap (in the raw).

combing technique soap entry

November Soap Challenge Club: Combing Techniques

Combing techniques produce such beautiful swirls, so I wanted to make something very feminine. I settled on the Brambleberry fragrance Relaxation. It’s the perfect sophisticated feminine vanilla scent with lovely floral touches (that don’t sting my sensitive nose). Plus, I could personally use this sweet smell at the end of my very long days. Because….not only do I have FIVE girls running around my feet constantly……SURPRISE!

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My baby bump!

Baby girl #6 (YES…S.I.X... and YES…G.I.R.L.) is due to arrive in a few short months! So that’ll be six girls ages 6 and under in my house. This mama needs some Relaxation soap! 🙂 We’re thrilled about another unexpected gift, feel completely blessed beyond our wildest imagination, and we’re also a bit shocked that it’s yet another girl. (Well, I’m shocked. My hubby isn’t surprised at all. He wondered why we even needed to have a sonogram to find out!) So now you know why I’ve been a bit absent as of late. But, let’s get on with the soap making!

For colorants, I used about a half teaspoon each of electric bubblegum pink, sparkle gold mica, and blue green mica (all mixed with olive oil), as well as one teaspoon each of lavender oxide and titanium dioxide (in water) mixed into half a cup of soap. I also used my homemade slab mold which yields 21 bars that are 3″ x 2.5″ in size. Amy’s slow-moving recipe of 35% olive oil, 30% lard, 25% coconut oil, and 10% avocado oil worked absolutely beautifully! I had tons of time to work with this soap. I blended to emulsification, then poured 4 ounces of soap into each of the 5 colors.

Colors for Relaxation soap.

Colors for Relaxation soap

Amy used squeeze bottles in her examples, but honestly, I think squeeze bottles are my nemesis. I chose to use my long pour spout cups instead.

Next, I added the fragrance only to the remainder of my soap (since it will discolor due to its vanilla content), poured it into the mold, then began pouring each color in an S-shape down the length of the mold.

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First round of pouring colors

I made several passes with each color, and near the end, I tried to make sure the lines were distinct so they wouldn’t get muddy when I began swirling.

Making a soap comb was so simple! Why haven’t I done this before now? I simply cut off a piece of corrugated cardboard about an inch shorter than the width of my mold. Then, I shoved bamboo skewers spaced about an inch apart through the corrugated lines of the cardboard. SO EASY! I drug my simple comb down the length of the mold, moved it over half an inch and drug back in the opposite direction.

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First pass with my simple soap comb

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Second pass after moving half an inch and combing in the opposite direction

Then I took the comb out of the soap, turned it 90 degrees, and drug it through the mold and back again, creating an awesome Taiwan swirl.

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Third pass, combing across the first stripes

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Final pass with the comb!

I was tempted to leave the soap just like that because it was so beautiful! But I also wanted to try the serpentine swirl! What to do? Compromise! I settled on creating the serpentine for just a few strokes down the length of the mold: the best of both worlds!

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Taiwan swirl (AKA linear swirl) AND Serpentine swirl. See the 2 lines of S-shapes on the right side? Very pretty!

After spraying the top with alcohol, I put the soap into a slightly warmed oven and left it overnight. After about 24 hours, the soap was hard enough to unmold and cut.

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Relaxation soap (Taiwan swirl side) fresh off the chopping block

I’ve found that it is still developing soda ash on top even several days later, so this one will need steaming after it’s fully cured. Totally worth it! The results are stunning.

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Relaxation soap with serpentine swirls

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Relaxation soap with Taiwan swirl pattern

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Relaxation soap, various patterns. The turquoise turned to a deeper forest green, and the lavender really turned purple, creating a lovely contrast of colors.

As always, I’m really looking forward to seeing the beautiful soaps created for this challenge. Thank you again, Amy, for such a great tutorial! Be sure to check out Great Cakes Soapworks for luxurious soaps, my all-time favorite lip butter, other lovely bath products, and all of the great tutorials she’s made for these challenges!

Thankful

I am most thankful for this.

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My sweet five messy babies

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And one with Daddy!

God has so richly blessed us!

Not only did we celebrate Thanksgiving last week, but also a very special birthday! The triplets turned…

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Putting up just three fingers is so hard! 🙂

…THREE!!!

And a few more pictures just for fun!

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They were so excited to have a berfday pawty! What they don’t realize is that it’s a party everywhere we go, every day of the year!

A Soap Massacre

In honor of Halloween, I bring you a soap massacre for your viewing displeasure.

Warning: The following content may cause you to cringe.

Massacred Soaps

Several Pumpkin Soaps and one sad White Tea & Ginger Soap met their match when the triplets found them!

Slashed White Tea & Ginger Soap

Slashed White Tea & Ginger Soap

The triplets struck again! Sometimes I forget that I can’t leave ANYTHING within their reach that I don’t want destroyed! I really blame myself.

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Pumpkin Soap cut in half after a few practice slices.

You see, I’d cut five loaves of soap at about midnight when I was completely exhausted. Rather than haul them all out to the garage to cure, I left them on my kitchen counter where I’d cut them (it was too cold to cut them in the garage). I planned to take them out first thing in the morning.

But the triplets had other plans. They found the soap the next morning while I was changing the baby’s diaper! After climbing on the stools at our breakfast bar, they found the soap cutter. Thankfully it’s not sharp at all; at least I remembered to put away the large knife I used the night before! Within three minutes, they’d cut through two bars completely and managed to partially slash several others. And boy, were they having fun! Shavings all over the floor. Chunks of beautiful soap strewn about.

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At least I got to see another view of the cool swirls in the soaps!

I heard the giggling coming from the kitchen and knew something was up. When I walked in, the girls just looked up at me and got very quiet. They knew! It amazes me how that filter develops. They immediately started to pick up the chunks of soaps and hand them to me. “Look, mommy! We cut the soap! We’re picking up now! We’ll help you!”

Needless to say, I immediately hauled all of the soap out to the garage!

Oh well. Worse has happened. Much, much worse. Now I just have several pieces of bars that I’ll get to use! Or, I can turn them into samples I suppose. Another lesson learned!

Crochet Pumpkin Hat

With fall securely here, I’m loving all things pumpkin! About a month ago, I made my first batch of pumpkin muffins this season, and I haven’t been able to get pumpkins off my mind since.

I wanted to make something cute for the baby to wear on our annual visit to the pumpkin patch. A Pinterest search led me to this free crochet pumpkin hat pattern by Cathy Kurtz.

Crochet Pumpkin Harvest Hat

Crochet Pumpkin Harvest Hat

I used a size G hook with Red Heart Super Saver yarn as suggested. It was a pretty quick pattern to work up, not too difficult, and fits my nearly 9-month-old perfectly. Take a look!

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I love the hat, but I love the chubby cheeks even more!

I especially like the front post double crochet stitches that create the ribs, making this hat really look like a pumpkin. And that stem! The curly vine and leaf on top are just too cute. In these pictures, they’re a bit obscured by the bow that I clipped on top to make sure everyone knew this little pumpkin is a girl!

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My little pumpkin sitting in the little pumpkins!

This is by far the cutest pumpkin hat pattern I’ve found! We’ve gotten lots of compliments on this one.

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Can you tell I’m a bit enamored with this sweet baby?!?!

If you like this hat, you might like the other free patterns on my Pinterest board. Happy harvest hookin’!

Crochet Ruffle Socks and Booties

Colder weather has me wanting to stitch up lots of cuteness for the baby! She’ll only be able to wear adorable crochet footwear for this season before she starts walking and needs actual shoes, so I have to make the most of it. They really do grow up so fast!

Here’s a look at my newest projects fresh off the hook.

Crochet Ruffle Socks

Crochet Ruffle Socks

I used a pattern called Frilly Feet by Christy McMahon from the Spring 2012 issue of Crochet Today! magazine. You can see their picture here, as well as purchase that May/June 09 issue of the magazine where the pattern originally appeared. If you know the basics of making socks, you simply crochet every other row of the leg using the back loops only. This will leave you with a front loop in which to crochet shells, creating cute ruffles.

Crochet Ruffle Socks in action

Crochet Ruffle Socks in action!

I used a Size E hook with Premier Yarns’ Deborah Norville Collection, Serenity sock weight yarn in the color Pink Sugar. I just love these socks, and they really weren’t too difficult to make.

Crochet Ruffle Socks on my cutie!

The socks just add to the cuteness!

After making the socks, I wanted more cute footwear! I was cruising through Pinterest and found this adorable free pattern for cuffed booties.

Crochet Cuffed Baby Booties

Crochet Cuffed Baby Booties

Sarah’s Repeat Crafter Me blog is super cute, and her instructions include a video for the first several rounds of the bootie. I even learned a new way to decrease stitches! She also has an example of boyish cuffed booties for those of you with boys. I used a Size G hook and Red Heart with Love yarn. The booties were really fast to work up, and I just love them!

Crochet Cuffed Baby Booties

No cute photo of the baby wearing these (yet, anyway). She was entirely too wiggly and trying to chew on the booties during our photo shoot! They are super cute on her, though! At 8 months old, they fit her well and should have enough room for her to grow into them for the next few months.

Both of these projects would make great gifts for the new babies in your life! I’ve pinned a few other really cute free patterns on my Pinterest board if you’d like some more ideas! 🙂 Happy hookin’!