Monday, December 21, 2015

Fun Ways We've Announced Our Pregnancies

I've been pregnant about a million times now.

Or maybe it just feels that way.

Anyway, Tony and I have had lots of opportunities to tell people that we're pregnant.  I've been remembering some of my favorite announcements lately, and decided to write them down so I can reminisce even when the kids have taken all of my brain cells.

(In addition to this list, I'm including links of our announcements from here on the blog, too -- just follow the links throughout the post.)

I think the first pregnancy always creates the most long-lasting memories.  Some of my favorites from that pregnancy were from before we even knew we were having twins!  We flew to Phoenix to spend Thanksgiving with my sister, my parents, and my grandma, and we made these shirts to wear, so they would know right away when we got off the plane.  Unfortunately, my dad didn't even notice, and drove us all the way to my sister's house before anybody told him!  Ha!

Another one of my favorites from our first pregnancy was telling my coworkers at Focus on the Family.  During our morning devotional time, I said that I had a prayer request.  With a totally straight face, I announced that I had been to the doctor and had been diagnosed with a growth in my abdomen.  I paused, then said, "It looks like it should go away on its own in about 9 months, though!"

I think that we could have had a lot of fun telling people that we were expecting twins, too, but we were so shocked that we just called people and blurted it out!  I'll never forget my phone call to my mom after that ultrasound.  She laughed so hard that I thought she was going to quit breathing!  I was not amused.  :)

When we found out we were pregnant with Marlowe, our due date was the very fun 11/11/11, so I made shirts for the twins with that date on them, and I had them wear the shirts to several places so that they could "announce" the pregnancy for me.  And wouldn't you know, I don't have a single picture of those shirts?

I had actually forgotten about this fun announcement for Cecily until I looked through my photos for this blog post.  I called all of my sisters and told them the news first.  Then, we all took the following pictures and sent them to Paula.  That night, Paula called my parents and told them to get on our family Facebook page, and started posting the pictures one by one.  This was fun for us because somebody else (Paula) was making the announcement for us, and we could just watch it develop!

During my current pregnancy, we found out that we were pregnant two days before our big send-off for my sister, who was moving to Oklahoma.  I knew it was early in the pregnancy, but I wanted to tell everybody when we were all together.  I whipped up this gift certificate from an online template and waited until we had finished the sending-off part of the party (but before my sister left) to hand them out.

Of course, these announcements have been mixed in with phone calls to far-away relatives, and text messages, and casual lunch conversations, and there are probably some super fun announcements that I'm completely forgetting right now ... but those are definitely some of my favorites.  Until next time!  (Just kidding!) (Or am I?) :)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Marlowe's Memoirs: Four Years Old

The transition to four years old is half happy and half sad for me.  I absolutely love the 4- and 5-year-old years, so it's exciting to move past the exhausting 2- and 3-year-old years.  But it also means that my baby is physically growing up.  The cubby cheeks and legs are starting to get slim.  I suddenly have a little girl, not a toddler!

One of my favorite things about this fall has been getting one afternoon a week with just Marlowe and me.  The twins go to afternoon Kindergarten, and Cecily naps at my friend's house for the afternoon.  Usually Marlowe just gets to be my sidekick while I run errands, but we always manage to get some ice cream or eat lunch together to make it special.  I am surprised at how much I look forward to those afternoons!  She's a pleasant shopping buddy and obeys really well.  Never imagined that I would say those things about Marlowe!  :)

It's true: Marlowe is maturing without losing her signature spunk.  She helps out with chores, and I can generally trust her to make good choices most of the time.  Except bed time ... she cannot get rid of her extra energy and would talk to her sisters all night long if we didn't intervene. (Clearly, you can see that she gets that extra energy from falling asleep in random places during the day. Ha!)

Last week, we had a hilarious "first" that I kind of doubt we'll have again.  All the girls woke up like usual, and we were eating breakfast at about 7:15 a.m.  Marlowe was being especially quiet, not eating anything.  Then, Tony and I noticed that she was nodding off!  Literally falling asleep at the table!  Tony carried her upstairs and she slept for another 1.5 hours.  I've heard of kids falling asleep while eating lunch and supper, but never breakfast!

I can't write about Marlowe without introducing you to Bun Bun.  We won this stuffed purple bunny at an Easter egg hunt a couple of years ago, and sometime in the last year, Marlowe decided that she and Bun Bun were inseparable.  She named her (or maybe him?), as well.  Bun Bun has gotten lost several times, and lives with her arms pushed into her body cavity, but Marlowe loves her, and drags her around everywhere.  She especially loves it when Grandpa Korf hides Bun Bun.

I found so many pictures of the things that Bun Bun puts up with that I couldn't choose just one!

I think that's where I'll wrap it up.  We're so happy that you've been a part of our family for four years, Marlowe!  We love you so much!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Cecily's Celebrations: Two Years Old

I was feeling guilty about writing Cecily's two-year post when her birthday was 3 months ago, but I see that I did the same thing last year, so we'll call it a tradition.  :)

Oh, Cecily ... where to begin?  She is solidly into her twos, and that brings a lot of things with it.  She has SO MUCH ENERGY.  The first thing I often hear in the morning is the sound of her jumping on her mattress.  I'm so glad that she has big sisters to play with.  They help her get a lot of energy out.  She also talks non-stop, and repeats herself until somebody listens to her.  She clearly understands how to be heard in a big family.  :)

Of course, the twos bring a lot of "discipline opportunities", and Cecily is quite ornery.  She disappears quickly and frequently, and I usually find her sucking on toothbrushes, emptying my sewing box, or drawing on herself with a pen.  It's exhausting, especially because I'm 6 months pregnant.  (Have I mentioned how thankful I am for Tony?)

Even though she has a lot of energy, Cecily is my best snuggler.  I'll bring her into bed with me when she wakes up too early in the morning, and she loves to lay on my chest and pretend to sleep (complete with fake snoring).  She's a little confused about my growing belly, though -- she doesn't appreciate the space it's taking up during our snuggle time.  :)

Like her sisters, Cecily has a special thing that she sleeps with.  We don't usually introduce anything to the kids, they just kind of latch on to something and start taking it to bed with them.  Her's is a sock monkey.  It's pretty adorable.

Cecily, you are all sugar and spice.  And everything nice, of course.  Happy Second Year, Cecily!  We love you!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Marlowe and Cecily's Birthday Party: A Flower Theme!

I thought I'd put a couple of pictures of Marlowe and Cecily's birthday party on the blog today.  I decided to combine their birthday parties, even though Marlowe's 4th birthday isn't until November, because I'm pregnant and morning sick and throwing two birthday parties in two months sounded like the last thing I wanted to do.  :)  So Marlowe got to join Cecily's 2nd birthday party, and loved it just as much!

This was probably definitely the least planning I have ever done for a birthday party.  I literally sent Tony grocery shopping the night before the party to get the food.  I borrowed some decorations from a friend.  I had my mom come over the morning of the party to help me frost the cake (because my resident cake-ball-making sister moved away, boo hoo!).  And THEN I found the decorations that I had purchased in advance, tucked nicely away in a drawer, days after the party!  I forgot to use them!  And on top of that, my sister had the wrong camera lens to take pictures with, so we didn't bother taking very many.

And you know what?  Nobody cared.  We all ate good food.  We all laughed and played and enjoyed watching my nephew do card tricks.  We sang "Happy Birthday" and opened a couple of presents.  It was just as nice as any of our other birthday parties!

So, here are just a few pictures of our lovely flower-themed celebration for Marlowe and Cecily.

The beautiful invitation was made by my sister Paula.  I changed the date, time, AND location of the party though!  Ha!

A few shots of the decorations...

Didn't my mom do an amazing job with the cake decorating?  I wish I had gotten a picture of the cake without the cover on.  It was really beautiful.

And some pictures of the birthday girls ...

And one of our family.  We are so blessed.  Happy 4th birthday, Marlowe!  Happy 2nd birthday, Cecily!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Anticipating Baby Five!

The VanHorn Family is adding another member!

We're very excited!

Here's my first belly picture.  Ridiculous, I tell you.  This is about 8 weeks pregnant.

And on Tuesday, we got to see little one for the first time.  Isn't this photo amazing?  You can see the entire baby, even the little dots for arms and legs.  He or she is only an inch or two long!

Here's a funny story: pregnancy tests apparently get a little less eventful when you're on your fifth kid.  I remember hovering over the test while holding hands with Tony when we found out we were pregnant for the first time, in 2008.  This time, I ran to the store and bought a test during nap time.  When I got home, Tony was outside trimming trees.  I told him not to worry about coming inside (I actually didn't expect a positive test).  You know how tests are supposed to take 3 minutes or something?  Well, this test was positive after about 5 seconds.  I went to the door and yelled at Tony, "We're pregnant!!" He yelled back, "Okay!  I'll come inside in a minute!"  :)

But really, we can't wait for March.  The kids can't wait either.  What a joyful time.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Leila's Life: 6 Years

Time for Leila’s six year update!  Hadley and Leila have really figured out the meaning of “twins” this year.  They know that they’re identical twins and love to point out when other things are identical.  I really, truly love the bond between those two.  They are so special to me.  All my girls are, of course!

Like Hadley, Leila finished her first year of Kindergarten this year.  She also proved to be a bright student and was reading as well as Hadley and tested with high marks by the end of the year.  I think she even enjoys reading for pleasure a little bit more than Hadley.  Leila seems to be a little bit more of a “trailblazer”.  Hadley is very happy to keep things the same way for a long time.  Leila likes change and will figure out how to do something new or different first (like the monkey bars) … and that gives Hadley the confidence to try, too.  But they hardly ever compare themselves to each other.  They seem like they know each other without using a whole lot of words to describe it.

Leila continues to have some of the most unique style choices in our home.  I plan to use this photo often when she's old enough to be embarrassed by it.  :)  

Leila also has developed a love of horses.  She begged for months to ride a real horse, so when we were in Florida, I found a petting zoo where she (and Hadley and Marlowe) could ride a pony.  Then, only a couple of weeks later, she and Hadley got to ride a real horse on a school field trip.  She was one happy girl!  She has at least a dozen toy horses, and loves to look at horse pictures on the computer.  She says she’s going to be a veterinarian and a mommy when she grows up.  (That’s also what Hadley says, by the way.  I think it sounds a great arrangement!)

And those are the highlights of my second six-year-old’s life!  Love you, Leila Lanie, my good-humored, loud-singing, animal-loving daughter!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hadley's Happenings: 6 Years

Time for the 6 year update on my twins!  Every year, I get a little bit later when I write this.  Eventually, I’ll just have to skip a year to catch up.  J 

Hadley and Leila are at Uncle Tex and Aunt Paula’s this week for Vacation Bible School at their church.  There are two things there that they love dearly: their cousin Trinity, and KITTENS!  I haven’t even been able to get them to talk to me on the phone for more than a couple of minutes because being there is just so exciting!  But we all miss them, especially Marlowe.

Well, the twins turned six back in June, and we celebrated with a picnic themed party.  We had so much fun.  Now they have 100 different ideas for next year’s theme.  We’ll see what they come up with!

I always start the yearly update with our “oldest”, Hadley.  This year, Hadley started and finished her first year of Kindergarten.  (I say “first year” because we are switching schools and the birthday cut-off date is different at our new school, so they’ll do Kindergarten again this year.  I’m sure they’ll be at the top of their class!)  Hadley really excelled in school.  She picked up reading incredibly quickly and was reading easy chapter books by the end of the year.  She tested well above “benchmark” in all areas at the end of the year as well. 

One of my favorite things about Hadley is her creativity and innovation.  Almost every day, she decides that she wants to make something, and will figure out how to do it, usually with just paper, crayons, and tape.  She’s always so pleased with the end result, even if it doesn’t work or ends up breaking.  She’s made costumes, kites, books, homemade stuffed animals ...  there are so many more that I can’t even remember.  She and Leila also regularly throw “parties”, complete with invitations, themes, and stuffed animal attendees.

Also this year, Hadley took up a campaign for a baby brother.  She has always loved babies and has decided that our family needs another one.  She’s a sweet and loving big sister, for sure.  She made the most adorable list in the world.  On this list, she named the baby (Levi Max, because that’s what she would have been named if she had been a boy), listed all of the activities that they could do together (including “choklet”, “rok a by baby”, and “soker”), and even gave him a birthday (May 25).  At the bottom, she wrote “I Love You”.  My mommy heart melted into a puddle.

And that’s a short look at Hadley Luella at 6 years old.  Love you, Haddie, my sweet, quirky, friendly, funny daughter!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Marching On To Six Years Old! (A Picnic Themed Party)

Hadley and Leila are turning six in two days.  I keep telling them that I'm going to skip June 4th so that they'll stay five.  They don't like that very much.  :)

We followed tradition this year and had a family-only party on Memorial Day.  Family-only still means 25 people, ha!  Like we've done a few times in the past, we included my nephew Lucas, who was born just five days before the twins.  (I remember holding new baby Lucas awkwardly on my huge pregnant belly and wondering what it was going to be like with two babies!  I had no idea!)

Originally, the twins wanted to have a strawberry party, but I thought we might need something a little less girly.  After finding out about Lucas's love of ants, I realized that a picnic party might be just the trick for combining strawberries and ants!  

Here's the invitation, a custom creation by me on my Silhouette:

I also made shirts for the birthday kiddos using the Silhouette and heat transfer material.  Super quick and easy, and they look great!

And here's the chalkboard in my living room, all dressed up for the big day.

As far as the actual party went, I decorated a food table and a drink/dessert island.  My sister Becky rocked it with a custom garland again and helped me with some drink tags.  Tony grilled burgers and hot dogs and we had basic grilling sides.  Melissa, Lucas's mom (and my sister), made amazing chocolate-dipped strawberries and strawberry cake balls!  And I have to mention the woman behind the camera, my sister Paula!

After that, it was all fun and games.  We were thankful for a sunny day after all the rainy days!  Love these birthday kids, and I love my family, too!