Saturday, December 26, 2009

I'm over here!

Come on over to my friend Lisa's blog. That's where I'm blogging today!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gifts with a purpose

I'm checking in amidst the holiday busy-ness to let all you crazy, super-last-minute gift buyers (like me) know about some cool gift ideas over here at From HIV to Home. Check it out! (The necklace is amazing. I have one and wear it all.the.time. And for all you SLO gals, it's designed by Lisa Leonard!) But you gotta act fast, 'cause Christmas is almost here. :)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

5 for 5 Day 3

Do you have an extra $5?

December 1st was World AIDS Day.

And marked the beginning of the Five for Five campaign.

You can give just $5 per day, for five days, and support five different projects around the world that are caring for children who are HIV+.

Today's project is Lola Children's Home in Ethiopia. Please visit From HIV to Home to participate! And then help spread the word!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tricks and treats

A very belated Halloween post. :) But still fun, right?

There was a ton of snow on the ground from a recent storm, but Halloween night was actually not too chilly. (The kids insisted they weren't cold.)
Mary and Kaitlyn both dressed up as ladybugs--a sweet friend got me the swaddling blanket and hat for Mary and it was great.

The kids got lots of candy, which we are still working our way through. By the time we decided to head home, the three biggest kids were wanting to be done. But not Kaitlyn. "MORE CANDY!" she shouted.
Mary's first Halloween was a good one I think. She slept for most of the festivities!
This year the kids and I made popcorn balls, and for breakfast on Halloween morning they had black oatmeal (food coloring) with a ghost (big marshmallow) in it. Special days and events are so much more fun with kids. They get so excited--it's one of my favorite things about being a mom!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Conversation from yesterday afternoon:

Anna: We're going to buy a turkey!

Kaitlyn: And then we're going to kill it!

Oh, the brutality of a holiday centering around the eating of meat. :)

(And just to clarify, we buy our turkey from the grocery store, so we don't have to do the dirty work ourselves. )

Today we're hanging out here at home, watching the various parades and football games, and I will be making my very first Thanksgiving turkey with all the trimmings. I tried to convince Kevin that we should take a trip somewhere fun with his time off, but he seemed less than enthused with that plan. :) THEN I thought we'd thumb our noses at tradition and get Chinese takeout or something, but when my son Yosef eagerly asked two nights ago, "Mom, are we getting a turkey?" on earth could I say no?!

So yesterday I took the kids to the grocery store where we (and everyone else in Denver) bought our groceries. The kids were SO EXCITED, and announced to every other store customer that we were buying a turkey. It was hilarious. Now, I don't know how the turkey will turn out, but I figure my 5 year olds and 2 year old won't be too picky. :) And Kevin will have his candied yams, so he should be happy too.

I'm most thankful this year for our little family and especially for sweet Mary Lucille. I also find myself thankful for the place where we live and the dear friends God has brought into our lives here, as well as for long-time friends that we miss. I'm thankful for community, and that thanks to the internet I'm able to share in the lives of friends scattered all over the world. Thank you for reading and wanting to share in mine.

And now I'm off to play a game with Kevin (and try not to think about having to stick my hand inside a dead bird and pull its guts out later). HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Homeschool update

Well we continue to plug along on our homeschooling journey. So far I'm pretty amazed by the whole thing. Anna's handwriting has improved SO much, and she actually ENJOYS it now! Yay! She'll be finished with the Kindergarten-level book soon. We're also getting decently close to being done with the Saxon Kindergarten math program. She's had a lot of fun with the various activities. Her Monday program she attends is going really well too! She loves to go, and it's so fun getting to see the work she's brought home. Yesterday I arrived a little early to pick her up and got to watch her class doing PE, playing that game "Steal the Bacon." Heehee!

In related news, I decided to start schooling the boys and picked up a couple of fun workbooks for them to do--which they proudly carried all the way through the store to the checkout, wanted to hold on the ride home, etc. They LOVE it--Yosef begs to do homeschool all day long. It's hilarious.

So yeah, homeschooling rocks. :) I love the flexibility, the relaxed atmosphere in our home, and the fact that I get to witness my kids developing new skills. I love that we can on a whim go meet Kevin for lunch, meet up with friends, or spend a day in PJs. I love that my big kids get to play a really active role in Mary Lu's little life, because they're home most of the time. I love getting to decide what the kids learn, that Anna loves to read, and that there's tons of time during the day to play and color and just be together. I love that Anna's friends at church are also homeschooled, and most of them attend school with her on Mondays.

All in all, it's a really great thing. So I thought I'd share! :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Apparently, when a bunch of people come together to say that water will be the first gift we give this Christmas season, amazing things happen.

Because in just 24 hours, over $10,000 was raised to build wells in Africa. Over 1,000 lives will be touched. Truly amazing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Goodbye tooth!

Yosef had a loose tooth (basically hanging by a thread) one morning at church. After church it was gone--and he had no clue where! He's a bit young to be losing teeth, and so most likely that tooth was traumatized at some point in the past. (I don't know about you, but teeth totally gross me out. I don't want to have to see/touch/know about any loose teeth. Ewwww! :) )

Today has been a good day. Our colds are finally getting better, I homeschooled, and I've gotten some housework done. Currently I'm sitting here on the couch holding an adorable baby, and tonight we have Community Group. I'm off now to finish up some things on my to-do list, including taking a shower. :) Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Old before my time

Yes, this is how I can be found as of about 9:30 pm most nights. (And apparently my husband can be found with a camera in his hands.) I am basically an 80 year old in a 28 year old's body. Crashed on the couch by 9:30.

I'M TIRED, people! This newborn stuff is not for the faint of heart--not to mention we all had colds last week.

Thankfully though Mary seems to be settling into eating at 10:30 pm, 2:30 am, and 6:30 am. I really can't complain when my one-month-old is sleeping for 4-hour stretches at night.

But I CAN fall asleep on the couch...with the sweetest, most precious little girl in my arms. So in the end, life is good.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Snow fun (for friends who live in milder climates)

A couple of weeks ago, we had a HUGE snowstorm. The most snow we've had at our house since we moved here I think. The kids--and Kevin--had a blast, while Mary and I stayed nice and warm inside. :) Of course last week was warm and beautiful, and then this weekend we got a bunch of snow again. I have come to love Colorado and its' rapidly changing weather!

Heading out into the backyard.
Kevin thought it'd make for a fun picture to have the kids sit down and then pack the snow in around them. Everyone but Anna thought it was fun I guess!
Playing. Note Kaitlyn sitting in the snow with only her head exposed. She LOVED it!
Snug as a bug in a rug in the house with Mommy (who, until she gets some snow boots and snow pants, does not play in the snow. And even then it might be a stretch.)
Still smiling, amidst the snow banks in the front yard.
About time to head in...

...for some hot chocolate + marshmallows!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sneaky photographers

One recent afternoon I found Biniam in the backyard with our camera. He got in trouble--he knows that's a big no-no. And then we found these pictures. They tell a story. Namely, that Kaitlyn snagged the camera and took it outside. She photographed some trees.

But then Biniam proceeded to take the camera from her...and therefore got some shots of Kaitlyn getting mad and crying at having the camera taken away. All before I found him. I find this all delightfully funny. When we first saw the pictures, it took awhile to put it all together and figure out what exactly had happened. Never a dull moment!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A captive audience

Friday, November 13, 2009

Give water for Christmas

Today you can do something really, really important.

You don't have to leave your house or even step away from your computer.

4500 children die every day for lack of clean water. That's 4500 mothers--women just like you and me--burying their children

But for $10, YOU can provide clean water for someone in Africa for 10 YEARS. You can change a life. Save a life.

Today, November 13, some of us are giving water. For only $10. Will you join us? Click here to make your donation.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Meeting Mary

I wanted to share some pictures of our big kids meeting Mary Lu.

You hear a lot about siblings having a hard time adjusting to a new baby in the house and to new demands on a mother's time. I feel really fortunate to be able to say that there were ZERO issues bringing Mary into our family. Really. I don't think Kaitlyn noticed that she was displaced as the "baby" of the family--she has been too enthralled with Mary.

The kids weren't able to meet Mary at the hospital (thanks to the swine flu paranoia) so they first saw her at our homecoming. They were THRILLED. Enchanted, really. Anna didn't leave Mary's side for days. It was beautiful.

Yes it's a bit overwhelming bringing home baby #5. There are four other little ones to care for, afterall. But it is positively precious to see your children rejoicing and instantly falling in love with their baby sister. New life brings something truly magical into our home and family. I'm amazed by it every time.

And we're doing well, positively blessed by the outpouring of support and meals and prayer from dear friends. (I need to go buy some thank you notes, because I have a ton to write.) I still feel like I'm trying to find my footing with this "new normal", but I'm treasuring these days. They are sweet.

More posts to come soon!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

This and that

I need to upload pictures again. :)

It feels like we're settling into our routine and adjusting to life with 5 little ones. Mary Lucille is sweet as can be and even though some days I feel terribly exhausted, life is good. This week we've gotten back into homeschooling, which is nice.

Since Mary was born, I've been on the computer less, which has actually been quite freeing for a compulsive email/Facebook/news checker like me. :) Instead I've been reading an excellent book, Flannery O'Connor: Spiritual Writings. Oh how I love to read. This particular book has some excerpts from her novels and short stories, but is mostly comprised of correspondence where she shares spiritual insights.

Obviously I don't have much to say. :) We had a good Halloween--the kids and I made popcorn balls, we did the whole trick-or-treating thing, and now we have a ton of candy in the house. I'll share pictures soon. (We had Snow White, two ladybugs, a policeman and a pirate.) Somehow we failed to watch It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, which makes me super sad since I love that movie and I think it's a great tradition. Maybe it's not too late.

I will end this post with a question: what is with the Snuggie? EVERYone is talking about this thing. On the one hand it seems utterly lame, but methinks I might like to wear one around the house. Because let's face it, it looks comfy and warm, even if it's really dumb. (As it is I am rather enjoying pants with drawstrings these days--whoever invented them is my hero.) So that's all. I'm still here, wearing comfy pants, reading your blogs and very occasionally posting on mine. Have a great week!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

THIS is why I put things off

Confession: I have not been to the dentist in years.

I know. Ew.

Well, I broke my dentist drought tonight.

I showed up to find that there was literally NO ONE in the office but me. And the dentist. Awkward.

As I'm filling out forms in the (eerie) silence, I notice the selection of magazines on the table, including the "Body" issue of ESPN magazine with a half-clothed woman on the cover. And supposedly completely not-clothed women inside.

So suddenly I'm thinking about Tim Whatley. And wanting to run out the door.

But I stayed. Long enough to endure such torture that I think I would have preferred to deliver a baby--naturally--tonight instead. (Note to self: do not make dental appointments so soon after having been pregnant. My gums are SO SENSITIVE. It was a blood bath. Again, ew.)

Finally, to top it all off...he suddenly says he's out of time. That I'll have to come back in two weeks for the check-up portion, x-rays etc. Um, okay.

All in all, he was a nice enough guy, but I'm suddenly not feeling so cowardly for having procrastinated making an appointment. Because between:
the awkwardness,
the pornography,
and the bleeding gums,
the dentist was no picnic. So I will now happily go on record with Jerry as being an anti-dentite.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Odds and ends

Just checking in to say hi.

Things are going really well. Mary is sleeping and eating great and we're maybe starting to adjust to getting less sleep. Maybe. :)

Actually I am really, really fortunate in that Mary nurses at 11 pm, 1 am, and 5 am. Then she sleeps till 8 am or later typically. That is really not so bad. God has definitely made this transition go smoothly and I am not taking that for granted!

I took my mom to the airport this morning--sad! She'd been here since October 9th, and I'm really going to miss her. Mary Lu loved taking naps in Grandma's lap so I know she'll miss her too. I don't like living so far away from my parents!

And so our new little life as a family of seven begins. My four oldest are still madly in love with sweet Mary and each of them is constantly vying to hold/hug/kiss/touch her. No jealousy, no acting out, just lots and lots of love and care.

We have to leave soon to pick up Anna from her day at school. I love Monday afternoons when I get to see how excited she is about what she painted, read, or did. And Mondays make me appreciate our days together during the rest of the week, because I really miss her!

I hope you have a great week. We'll just be hanging out here, Mary has her 2-week doctor's appointment on Thursday, and I'll be breaking my years-long not-going-to-the-dentist streak tomorrow. I know. So gross. But I fear the dentist. (Yes, avoidance is my personal favorite defense mechanism--thank you Sigmund and Anna for coming up with something that describes crazies like me so well!)

Monday, October 19, 2009

5... the number of kids I have now. It's crazy--I still haven't really wrapped my mind around it.

Not because 5 is some magic number that is so much bigger than 4, but because little Mary Lu came into our lives so casually and quietly: me getting pregnant again just 2 WEEKS after losing our baby, then having a pregnancy that just kinda seemed to fade into the background of daily life, homeschooling, and home improvement projects, and finally a labor and delivery that went pretty fast. (Though it did NOT feel that way at the time! Ouch!)

And now suddenly, we have this sweet baby girl in our family. It all feels like a whirlwind.

Each of our children is dear to me. Each in their unique way. Mary is a profound gift and I feel like I'm still processing through it all. The grief you feel when you lose a baby through miscarriage is overwhelming. Finding out God is giving you another child right in the midst of that grief is both amazing, and strange.

Yet God is good, and makes beauty from ashes, and as a result, my daughter Mary Lucille is sleeping in the next room.

Thank you all SO MUCH for your well-wishes and prayers and congratulations. Mary is meant to be here, and in our family. She came into our lives gently, a sweet miracle from God at a time when it seemed there were mostly just feelings of pain and loss. I may be sleep-deprived, but I'm positively delighting in this gift and in these early days of life with Mary Lucille.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mary Lucille


My water broke at 1:40 a.m....

And sweet Mary was born at 3:37 a.m., less than 2 hours later.
7 pounds 6 ounces, 19.5 inches long.

The first time they checked me (you know, to make sure I was in labor :) ) I was at 7 cm, and the next time I was at 10. Whew. :)

This has been a whirlwind of a night. We're tired. :)

This was my very first labor with no pain medication at all. It was hard. And grueling. (Don't be fooled: short labors are pretty intense.) But oh so amazing and worth it.

And we finally have our Mary. (We've loved this name for years.)
Now it's time to get some sleep in our comfy, queen-sized hospital bed. God is good. We are blessed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hospital Bound!!!

Brianna's water has broken and we're heading to the hospital!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It's just cranky me again :)

Well I'm still here.

No baby yet.

Pretty good contractions on a regular basis. (I'm having one right now in fact.)

Three days away from my due date.

My mom is in town, which is SO much fun. Today we drove up to Fort Collins just to check things out and see the town. (I hadn't been up there before.) What a neat place! I LOVED it. Tomorrow I have my OB appointment and tomorrow night our community group is getting together for dinner on Pearl Street...I'm trying to stay productive and busy but let's face it, everyone in this house is antsy for baby to be born! Last night they were actually timing my contractions (which were about 5 minutes apart for over an hour), but they went away. Bummer! I'm curious to see if I'm past 3 cm at my appointment tomorrow.

Anyway, just letting everyone know that our little girl has yet to join the world. Funny how when you reach the end of the pregnancy, it feels like you're in limbo. I'm all about waiting for the baby to come when she's ready, but boy can it be hard to wait!!!

Friday, October 09, 2009

When Mommy's away...

One night recently I got the kids all ready for bed, the phone rang and I ended up talking for awhile. Kevin was downstairs working on our basement and so I just assumed that he'd put the kids to bed (their bedrooms are all downstairs).

Yeah, not so much.

There was apparently much fun, and dress-up, and dancing. Unbenownst to me. All captured on camera by Kevin, who clearly was in no hurry to get the kids to sleep.

I think that often the best times are the spontaneous ones, where no one's watching the clock, and where the standard rules don't apply. I have to admit I was a little grumpy when I first got off the phone to discover that the PJs were now off and there were four sweaty kids racing around long past their bedtimes. But those pictures and memories and moments with Daddy are priceless!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Heldts go to a Rockies game

We got to go to our first Colorado Rockies game (well, since we've lived here) last Thursday.
SO FUN! We took the light rail, had lunch downtown where incidentally we ran into a friend (I find it really bizarre that this is by FAR the biggest city/area I've ever lived in and I run into people I know WAY more here than I ever did before), and then headed back for the game. The kids didn't have that great of a time, but they were really well behaved so we had a good time. :) Kaitlyn even took a nap on my lap, which was the sweetest thing!

Kevin also went to his first Bronco's game on Sunday afternoon with a friend, and had a blast.

Waiting for the game to start.

Biniam applauding--though it looks more like he's attending an opera than a baseball game! This picture seriously cracks me up.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Pig paranoia

Okay honestly this whole swine flu thing is getting a little out of hand. No doubt it's horrible and miserable to have. I certainly don't want myself or my kids to come down with it. But my OB's office just called to remind me about my weekly appointment tomorrow, and informed me that I'm not allowed to bring any of my (already-born) kids to the office. That hopefully that doesn't inconvenience me, but they're just trying to "protect everyone." (AKA themselves. Because I'm pretty sure it's MY job to protect my own kids.)

First of all, I don't bring my kids in, Kevin comes home to watch them. So this is a non-issue. BUT, I'm paying this doctor a heck of a lot of money, and if I want to bring my children with me to hear the baby's heartbeat or because my husband has to work, I ought to be able to. OR the doctor's office needs to be up front about this policy from the get-go. Give me a break.

Just an anecdote from my day. :) Here's hoping we all remain swine flu free, but here's also hoping we remain mass hysteria free. In the words of George Costanza, WE'RE TRYING TO HAVE A SOCIETY HERE, PEOPLE!!! :)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

But I want to stay home!

Okay I am sitting here trying to muster up the motivation to go to Costco with the kids. The thought of selecting and lifting items sold only in bulk does not in any way appeal to me at this time. I'm tired. It's cold out. But we need, well, food. :)

Thinking we'll also have lunch at the food court. Good times.

I'm laughing out loud at myself because I'm sitting here literally BLOGGING ABOUT NOTHING to avoid running my errand. Yes, it has indeed come to this.

Happy Tuesday! May your day also be filled with large boxes and bite-sized samples and fountain drinks infused with legal stimulants.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Still here

No baby yet. As of last Thursday, I was dilated to 2 cm and 70% effaced. So I'm getting close, but who knows, it could still be awhile. The ultrasound says the due date is 10/16, but calendar-wise it's more like 10/10. Time will tell!

I'm utterly exhausted most of the time now, but that's normal for the end of pregnancy, at least for me. We have also been SO busy lately-- I only had ONE full day at home last week, which is highly unusual around here. And this week is shaping up to be busy too.

Today Anna had school and I had lunch duty. It was actually a lot of fun to see who Anna sits with, and to chat with the kids I know there (half the kids from our church actually, which is funny since the school is a full half-hour from our church.) Yosef, Biniam and Kaitlyn had a blast too eating lunch in the gym and playing with all the kids.

In other news, Biniam was attacked today by a swarm of bees and stung multiple times. Yikes. He's fine, thankfully, and is apparently not allergic to bee stings.

Dinner's in the oven, and it will feel really good to get those kiddies tucked in later and put my feet up and relax. With ice cream of course! :)

Friday, October 02, 2009

My feisty exterminator

You may not know it, but Kaitlyn--yes, my two-year-old--is by far the most self-assured, aggressive of my four children. She either takes things quite seriously, or is crazy and a ton of fun. But she means business. (As you can see in the above picture. That was her getting her hair cut at our house by my friend Shannon.)

This morning I came across literally the biggest spider I've ever seen. In the girls' bedroom. I am terrified of spiders and had Biniam run and grab some toilet paper, and I encouraged him to pick up the spider with it and throw it in the toilet. He kept trying but kept getting scared.

Enter Kaitlyn.

First she marched up to the spider, plopped down and started blowing on it, announcing that she was blowing fire. (This morning we read about how God sent fire down on Mt. Sinai when He was talking to Moses. Clearly this was her inspiration.) THEN she grabbed the TP, and grabbed up the spider, squishing it in the process. She threw it down angrily however, yelling that the spider had touched her. But she'd gotten the job done. Biniam picked up the spider and toilet paper and flushed it.

Mission accomplished.

By a two-year-old.

I love this kid! Here she is being goofy with her sister while we were baking cookies one day. She has a great sense of humor! But when it comes to killing spiders, yeah, she doesn't mess around.

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