Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Celebrating Jesus' Birthday

Picture of the 3 kiddos after decorating the tree. At one point Maddie was so excited and bouncing up and down, she bounced her diaper right off (honestly) I want to post a pic but wasn't sure about putting a bare bum on the internet :)


Just a random picture of Maddie i took one day - she has proved to be quite photogenic :)


Celebrating Jesus' Birth...

That's what we have been trying to ingrain into out children's' heads this whole month of December. To teach them to anticipate the celebration of Christ's birth, not the opening of presents. We've been able to celebrate with both sides of the family, a little spaced out through the month. Back on December 11, we got together with all the Suvar's up at Sam and Kat's new home in Toledo. It was a great place, room enough for everyone to stay overnight and hang out from Friday to Sunday. Thanks Sam and Kat for opening your home to all the (wonderful) chaos!

On Christmas Day we got together with the Steffen side and spent the day filling ourselves up with great food, playing board games, and singing a few carols. Sadly, we had to say good-bye to Clinton and Michelle a bit early since they had to get up early Sunday morning to fly to HAWAII! (Clinton is working on a concrete project there for the next month.) Thanks to mom and dad for all the work they put into making it a great weekend!
I love this picture: Sam had to grow up with 3 sisters....but now he has 3 brothers! :)

Monday evening we celebrated our Christmas as a little family of 5. We did our-what is becoming a tradition-picnic on the living room floor, opened gifts, and watched the Polar Express.

It's hard to believe Christmas is already past - this season goes too fast. But I pray you can continue to feel the warmth of knowing that our Savior has come to this earth, died in our place, and rose again so that we never have to know death! Thank you, Jesus (and Happy Birthday :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thanksgiving at Gateway




This Thanksgiving we were on duty at Gateway. Although we were very bummed to miss family gatherings, we are thankful that the time went smoothly. It can be kinda dicey with everyone home from school for 4 days straight....look out Christmas vacation! I tried my best to make a real Thanksgiving feast and ended up making the turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, noodles, gravy, and pumpkin pie all from scratch. The only thing from a box was the mashed potatoes...i know, i know, but by the time i got to the potatoes, i was DONE with cooking!
We enjoyed a filling meal and watched football and played some ping-pong. The electricity went out around 7 PM but THANKFULLY we have a generator so we had partial power.
The next day we set up the tree and all the resident got in the spirit and helped. Owen and Hannah had so much fun as well. Maddie, we stuck in a swing to keep her from pulling the tree over.
We also spent some time drawing and coloring turkeys, writing down what we are thankful for, and cutting out snowflakes...oh, and dodgeball in gym!
All in all, the weekend went well, but hopefully we will get to spend it with family next year... :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

He did it...again!






This past weekend Paul ran another marathon. He was not satisfied with his time last month at Columbus (he was 31 seconds shy of his goal). So he signed up for another one to try to beat his goal time of 3 hrs and 30 minutes. One glitch...we were on duty...for the whole weekend. This was only made possible by the help of Paul's parents who kept our kids for the weekend - thank you!!! Saturday morning Paul got up sometime in the 4 or 5 o'clock hour (i can't remember) and got himself ready and headed to Columbia City about 45 minutes from Leo. I got up at a much more reasonable hour and herded the residents through breakfast and then into the van to go watch Paul. We set ourselves up at the finish about an hour before Paul was set to run by. The residents got caught up in the excitement and cheered on all the finishers that ran by. And at about 3 hr 24 minutes we saw Paul down the road about 3/4 mile from the finish. Two of the residents ran with Paul to the finish where he clocked a time of 3 hr 28 minutes and 33 sec. And a surprise at the finish was Paul's dad with Owen! It was such an awesome moment for me to see Paul beat his goal and then to turn around and see his dad and Owen. So cool :) Paul was pretty please with his time and seemed to feel pretty well afterwards (he played dodge ball that afternoon, and basketball the next day! good grief....)
Now that Paul has met his goal, we are shutting down the training for awhile....whew.

Monday, November 1, 2010

And she's up!



It's actually been about 2 weeks, but Maddie has figured out how to pull herself up to stand. She loves to stand at the toy box and will spend over half and hour just pulling stuff out and talking to herself. Now that she is pulling herself up, i have realize how lax we have been in having a baby-proof house. The coffee table used to be safe for things to be set, but not anymore. She is getting into stuff we were not even aware was an issue. Looking back at the other kids' baby books, Maddie is about a month, if not a month and a half ahead of the other 2 with her physical development. I figured she has to be, just so she can keep up (or get away from them!)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gateway Girls






Back in March a picture was taken of the six baby girls who were born to houseparents at Gateway all within an 8 month time span. It's 7 months later and we did another 'photo shoot.' The last time Maddie was 1 month old and slept through the whole thing. This time we were contending with 6 girls who could crawl or walk and wanted to eat the leaves :) But a sprinkling of cheerios and tossing leaves helped us get a few good shots. Thanks to Stef Beer for taking the pictures.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Whew! We did it!

All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. I Corinthians 9:25-27
So the race we had been training since April for finally came and went. Paul and I ran the Columbus Marathon (he the full, me the half) this past weekend. The kids stayed with the grandparents (thank you!) and we headed down to Columbus to take a shot at reaching our desired goals. We had gorgeous running weather. The race started at 7:30, just before the sunrise hit downtown, with a cool, crisp high 40's morning. By the end of the race it was mid 60's and sunny. Paul started our morning with a prayer and verse (can you guess which one?) and I was reminded of it as I was running later that morning. Training for a big race has quite the correlation of running the race of life spiritually speaking. Both take discipline, perseverance, and remembering how great it will be at the end when we finish! Although the finish line at the race is a far shot from heaven, it definitely has a great feeling when you know you ran the race well, gave all you got, and finished with a smile on your face. And I know the crown of victory I get someday will far outshine the medal hung around my neck this weekend! There were all types of runners (15,000 if i remember correctly) coming from all walks of life. But one thing you felt throughout the crowd was runners encouraging others they didn't even know to continue on and reminding them of the finish ahead. How important it is to encourage our fellow Christians to continue on even when everything is aching and remember the prize at the end!
This race was a great reminder to keep an eternal focus and to keep striving for that heavenly goal. I thank God He gave me a body with the ability to move and to even complete the 13.1 miles this past weekend. It was an awesome experience and to God be all the glory!

I think I'm gonna do it again next year :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Owen!


Four years ago today, Owen made his very quick arrival into this world by a (surprise!) c-section in the early hours of the morning. Today he delights us with his morning smile, asking for his daily oatmeal (yes, he eats oatmeal every morning...he loves it :) He moves through the day constantly asking questions, and having a remarkable ability to remember every answer. He has a sensitive heart that often leads him to hurt when others hurt. Our sweet Owen, 4 years old!
We love you, Owen, and we are so glad that God chose us to love you and raise you up to know Him. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My latest challenge...



So, a few months back I mentioned something about needing to challenge myself to try tough stuff. So, from a non-spiritual direction, I tried my hand at some handsewing. I found this craft book that had patterns for making stuffed animals. One pattern was for an elephant I decided to try my hand at. For the material I used old baby clothes of Hannah's that she had ruined with all her puking. I couldn't just throw them away so i cut up the less stained parts and used them to piece together the elephant. Here is the finished product, minus a few details that I need my mom's help instructing (french knots? blanket stitch? yikes!) Owen wants a monkey so that is next on my list. And the elephant's name? Mommy. Thanks, Hannah :)

Campfires and Campouts






Ever since our camping experience over Labor Day, Owen and Hannah have camping in their blood. Thankfully, a Steffen campout was quickly put together and Owen and Hannah got to enjoy another night in the pop-up camping with Grandpa and Grandma.

We've also attempted a few campfires in our firepit. We had one great evening, roasting marshmallows and collecting sticks. Another night we got rained out so the kids and Paul built a "tent" in the living room with blankets and kid furniture. Maddie loved everyone crawling around on the floor with her. She could hardly contain herself :) We did smores in the oven instead of the fire (it seemed to work out alright!) And just yesterday we pulled out a tee pee Owen received as a birthday gift. Owen and Hannah played outside with it during the day. Then when we brought it in at night, Paul read them some books in it before bed.

Looking back over my pictures I took in the month of September, almost all of them are of camping/campfires. What a great way to celebrate fall (my favorite time of year!)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Camping!






This past Labor Day weekend we took 4 days off and headed to Illinois to camp with some friends. The place we stayed at was down by the Mackinaw River, surrounded by conservation land. The weather was perfect and the area was gorgeous. There were paths to walk around on and the river was ankle deep so the kids were able to play in it. The kids took Jeep rides, horseback rides, and long walks on the paths. I think their favorite part was throwing rocks in the river and sleeping in the camper. We had great food and company. And did i mention this was all in someone's backyard? Pretty amazing. I hope to go next year :)

Monday, August 23, 2010






This past weekend we were able to get together with the whole Suvar family. Since we were all there, we decided to try for a family group photo. The only person not looking or smiling is Maddie, so i think it turned out pretty good. After the "photo shoot" the kids had a great time running and splashing in puddles. And that night Owen and Hannah camped out in the backyard with Grandpa - something they ALL enjoyed :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Potty Trained!


Suprisingly it went much better than it did with Owen. I thought Owen had caught on pretty quick and the process only lasted a few weeks. With Hannah, it took about a week and she had it. She has very few (next to none) accidents and stays dry for naps and at night. Overall the process was pretty low key and not frustrating at all but I am sure glad to have that behind us :) One in diapers is so nice!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

6 months





It is hard for me to believe our baby is 6 months old! The time has gone so fast. Madeline had her check-up today and she is weighing in at 17 lb 8 oz (75 percentile) and 26 inches (50 percentile). She is rolling both ways, enjoys her exersaucer and watching Owen and Hannah play. She is enjoying trying new foods and has done well with everything offered so far. Maddie is our cuddle-bug. You can just hug her close to you and she snuggles right in - I love it! She also is content to just sit on your lap and watch what is going on. This is a concept neither Owen or Hannah ever figured out. It works well for church :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What we've been up to...





We've kept ourselves busy this summer. I can hardly believe we are almost to the end of July. We didn't have any vacation planned (a trip with 3 children under 3 didn't sound like a vacation! :) but we took several days off to just enjoy some family time and it has been wonderful. We have a little blow-up pool that the kids (and Paul) enjoy playing in. We took a trip to the Ft Wayne zoo one day and met the Grandma's there. Hannah has been working on potty training. Which has been going really well. She likes to have her toy trains "watch" her while she uses her potty and you can see a couple of them in the foreground of the one picture (disturbing? maybe.) Maddie is progressing to solid foods and is working on sitting up on her own. She rolls both ways and is in the first stages of trying to be mobile. I've enjoyed the days of hanging clothes outside on the line and had to take a picture. This is just 2 days worth of clothes! between maddie learning to eat and hannah learning to use the potty, we go through a lot of clothes. I'm still plugging away at my training to run a half-marathon this fall and am now up to 9 miles. With my job of parenting, God continues to call me to improve on my patience, mercy, and self-discipline. But thankfully, He's not finished with me yet :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

I just wanted to take this moment to acknowledge 3 important men in my life: My dad, my husband, and my father-in-law.
Dad, thanks for being the provider and leader of our family. Thank you for your Godly example and support through the years. And for being there for our family.
George, thank you for raising up a wonderful son who makes a great father himself because of the example you showed him.
Thank you to both of you for the Grandpa's that you are to our children. It's so awesome to see the generations continue and the legacy you pass on to them.

And to my wonderful husband and father of my children: Thank you, Paul for being the provider and leader of our home, the example of God's love through discipline and mercy.
I love each one of you. Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Self-Discipline...


Lately I have felt like i am often taking the easy route in life and not moving outside my comfort zone. Sometimes i see this in my parenting (ugh, i really hate to admit that) and often in other areas (i.e. allowing someone else to be the welcoming host instead of going up and introducing myself to a visitor in church) I have been convicted to try the more difficult route and see through with the challenge. With my parenting it would be to stay calm and patient even though i feel like i am ready to blow (one of the residents referred to this as the "Hulk Mom," you know the guy who turns large and green when angry. Not one of my better self-descriptions :( in other areas it is going up and talking to new people (I'd rather be the wall-flower), being self-disciplined and sticking with a devotional time daily (and not letting it fade a week or two into it), and in my personal life - signing up for and completing a half-marathon. All of these things take self-discipline and follow-through. Two things i feel God is calling me to improve. Two things that are valuable to a Christian walk.
Perhaps someone else can put it better for me (I'm terrible at this writing thing!) This devotional was in my mailbox a few weeks ago, right at the time i was beginning to tumble around in my mind the idea of needing to improve my self-discipline:

I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified I Corinthians 9:27


I was struggling through the first mile of my run, I thought about my lack of motivation to lace up my running shoes that day. I didn't feel like running. I didn't want to stop what I was doing at home and take time to go running. I didn't want to do the hard work. The phrase "I discipline my body" went through my mind. As my legs pumped and my muscles strained and my heart cried out for relief, I certainly understood what Paul meant when he wrote that verse.

As I ran, my mind cycled through the many other things in life that are worth doing, yet require us to "discipline our bodies" into submission to accomplish them. In some instances we must physically discipline our bodies. Taking care of ourselves, exercising, and making healthy eating choices requires resolve, sacrifice, and some hard work.

In other instances we must emotionally discipline our bodies. Choosing to honor our husbands, or our parents, with our words and attitudes requires a continual humbling process that our flesh rails against.

Still other times we must spiritually discipline our bodies. I am learning it's not enough just to say I want a close relationship with God. I have to "discipline my body" to pursue Him. This includes getting up early when my body wants to sleep longer so I can start my day by having a quiet time. And I can't say I want to live by His Word if I am not willing to spend time studying it, disciplining my body by foregoing my desire to veg out in front of the TV in favor of reading the Bible.

I am learning that most things in life that are worth doing aren't going to be easy. Yet my flesh—my lazy, insolent, ugly flesh—continually hangs onto the thought that it should be easy.

Sometimes my flesh wins out, I won't lie. But for the most part I am learning that when I make the effort to "discipline my body" I am always glad later that I did.

That seems to describe my dilemma pretty well :)
And on a different note, i just had to post a recent pic of the kiddos (for the grandmas!!)