Sunday, December 30, 2007

Rub a dub dub

4 cousins in a tub!
My nephew, Micah, is visiting. He's just a few weeks younger than Nia and so they are great playmates. I have made an important realization-- 4 kids really isn't any more work than three. (I guess if you're in for a little, you're in for a lot. :)

Okay, Micah is stinkin' adorable. He keeps cracking me up. My favorite thing he said so far was this following conversation we had while walking into Target last night.

Micah: Auntie Gwenn, where are we?
Gwenn: We're at Target.
Micah: I recognize this place, we have one in my country too.

(He lives in North Carolina by the way, so not even a different state much less country.)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Holy big boy!

I am a post-aholic these past few days-- but I can't believe how quickly Josiah is turning into a big boy... WHERE'S MY BABY???

Happy Birthday Nick!!!!

Nick is 28 today! He's off to the bookstore for some kid-free, wife-free time all to himself... but here are a few pics of the morning...

Banana nut pancakesPlaying with little J-man.

Wrangling all the kids

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Reign Over Me

Holy smokes this is a good movie--

VERY sad and heavy, but GOOD.


There are times when I am just blown away by the goodness of God towards us. Today I am just extra grateful for my son Josiah. This is Josiah, who was healed by God three days after he was born:

Nick likes to write songs to sing to his kids. This is a song Nick wrote for Josiah:

Josiah in the land of
Broken hearts and broken wings

A child king--
Too much responsibility

Rely on the ones God has around you
And He'll surround you
With His love

Born on the first
But there's a second verse

Raised from death on the third day
Saved by a man
What an amazing plan

For all You've done--What can I say?
You know the best way
To show Your love

Josiah, in this life you'll be
In a land of broken dreams

But you were saved for man
To complete God's plan

And show His Son to those around you
As He surrounds you
With His love

Thank you God for Josiah.

The Kids Christmas Story

So for the past three years, Nick and I have done the kids Christmas story on Christmas Eve at our church. We really have fun. I know that I am somewhat biased, but in my opinion Nick is brilliant. I really think he is. He's very good at physical comedy and has pretty much no limit as to what he'll try. He's not afraid to play the idiot, which I think is crucial. (He claims Chris Farley is his inspiration.)

This year he repelled from the rafters in a "Mission Impossible" type story-- (btw- many thanks to Justin Lukasavige for making that possible last minute... we like to say he saved Christmas!) I don't really have any good pics, but here are a couple I do have-- I hope to be able to get a video soon...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Very Happy Day!

Today was one of the happiest days of my life.

First of all, Josiah gave us a relational gift by not only sleeping ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT (which he's not been doing lately) but he didn't wake up until after the other two had woken up AND eaten breakfast. At one point I made Nick go check and make sure he was breathing. (he was:)

After the kids woke up, we had "first breakfast" (monkey bread), then we had Advent, put baby Jesus in the manger, sang some Christmas songs, and then opened our stockings. By that time Nick's parents arrived and we did presents then. The kids were SOOOO good this morning. I can't imagine being prouder of them.

We had a fun present time. We have really tried to scale back but still find ourselves in a place where the kids get tons of things from all our family members and friends... we are blessed beyond measure. Nick's parent's did a great thing for Nick and I this year... they gave us all gift cards to restaurants/movies, etc AND this magnet:I have a feeling we will make them sorry for that gift! :) But truly it was a great idea... after all the drama of this past 7 months, we desperately need some moments of calm in our marriage.

After gifts we ate "second breakfast" (breakfast casserole) and just played. We went outside where Nia played with her new scooter, AND we met a new family that was moving in TODAY three houses over... they have a little girl who is 4 and a little boy who is 2.5... so, it looks like my kids just got some new playmates. Their daughter already came out to play with us in the cul de sac.

Everyone is just sort of resting-- kids are napping, we're all chilling. I am getting ready to fix the lasagna.

Here's a few pics of all the fun and festivities:

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Relational Giving

In our family and church community this year we are really trying to avoid a lot of the "traps" of the holidays. We're trying to focus more on giving of ourselves relationally rather than just giving gifts for the sake of giving gifts.

In that light, our family went to a really great party last night at our friend's Deena and Jason's house. Many of our close friends were there and it was a time to just focus on friendship, have a great meal, and not have the pressure of gifts.

All was going well-- the Karaoke competition was getting heated when Nia started freaking out. This is very unlike her. She just was screaming, "Mommy, I need my mommy. I am tired. I want to go home!" We get outside and she says, "Mommy I am going to throw up." (Which she proceeded to do.) She got in the car and was literally screaming "Owwww. It hurts. My head hurts. It hurts everywhere." This went on for several minutes until she just all of a sudden fell asleep in the car. Like seriously, it was awake and screaming one moment and dead asleep the next. While sleeping she was moaning and groaning in her sleep.

We got home and carried her in. I took her temperature and it it was 103. She's barely able to stand and was just moaning. I tried to just keep her awake for a few minutes so I could ask her a few questions, but I couldn't keep her awake. It was like she was drugged. I was kind of concerned because I have never seen her act that sick. And certainly never that quickly. She seemed fine only moments before all this started. I called the dr. and he told us to bring her in in the morning. I slept with her last night and she just moaned all night long in her sleep. So Nick is at the dr. with her now... hmmm.

So, I guess all of this is to say, it looks like Nia's "relational giving" (the flu???) will be received by all at the party right about on Christmas day! Way to think ahead Nia!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


So after attending one of the four Christmas Eve services at Crosspointe tonight, (with the other three being at 3,5,7 on Monday-- stop by if you can... it's an AWESOME service...) we were having Advent.

One of my favorite things about doing advent with the kids is listening to Nia's prayers at the end. This is a summary of her prayer tonight. I am NOT exaggerating the number of times she said this... it was probably actually MORE than I am mentioning.

Dear God, Thank you for my mom and dad and thank you for my brothers. And thank you for my sister. But I don't actually have a sister, so I pray you will give me a sister. I really, really, really want a sister. So God, will you bring me a sister, cause I really want one. Really. So could I have one? God, maybe you will say yes and maybe you will say no. But if you say no, I will be really sad because I really want a sister. God, PLEASE bring me a sister. Maybe someone could sell their baby or something and then we could get her, and that way I would have a sister. Thank you for my nana and grandad and grandma and grandpa. Amen.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Then and now

I was taking some pics of Nico today (yes, he's on the potty-- sorry, I had to have a few blackmail pics for later.) Then I was comparing them with when he first came home. It will be 5 months ago tomorrow, which is unreal to me... it feels like just yesterday in some respects, where in others I feel like we've just always had him...

Anyway, here's then:

And here's now:

Doesn't he look plumper and healthier?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Advent guide correction

Okay, I know this is totally a long shot, however, if anyone who reads this blog has been following the advent reading guide given out at Crosspointe's 'approach' event, I found a crucial typo for today's reading/question.

The correct reading for today (week 3, day 3) is actually Matthew 8:14-15. The reflection question is correct. Sorry if there was any confusion.

Just in case I was tempted to become prideful...

So I am not one of those parents who thinks their child can do no wrong. I am very aware that my children have faults (like all of us) and that they have areas which God must refine over time. That being said, lately I have just been TOTALLY loving my daughter Nia. I have seen such beauty in her heart recently and it has just made me so proud of her. She really does love people so very genuinely and is so incredibly generous. She has a giving heart and always wants to make sure everyone is included. There have been several times in the past few weeks where God has taken my breath away with how much I love her and how I not only love her, but actually LIKE her. :)

And then there was this morning. :) She was talking with her imaginary friends (like she does) and I hear her say, "Yeah, you're lucky your mom is a queen. My mom's a witch." Nice, huh?

In other kid news-- Josiah is sitting up finally. Well, for a few minutes at a time anyway, and then he usually topples over. Here he is watching "Baby Faith" (known in our house as "Baby Crack".)
Nico's potty training. Yeah, I don't really like potty training a boy. Growing up in a home full of girls, I have NO experience with things like this and it's WAY outside of my comfort zone. I am finding it to be all sorts of complicated in ways potty training a girl is not. Seriously! He will go to sit on the potty and pee and come back with the FRONT of his shirt soaking wet with pee. I am finding myself using phrases (with regularity) that I never thought I would use. In fact, this very morning I heard Nia in the bathroom with Nico and she was saying, "Shake it off Nico... like this..." (Yeah, like SHE'S qualified to give advice on that!) I guess this is just another one of the perks of being a "pampered" stay at home mom.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

AMAZING gingersnaps!

Okay, so I made these gingersnaps for my mother-in-law because she LOVES gingersnaps and she was coming over to watch my kids today... OH MY GOODNESS!!! They are SO good.

Here's a link to the recipe: or just read below...

BE SURE TO CHOP (or food process in my case:) the crystallized ginger. (I found it at Target with the spices BTW... it's a little pricey, but these cookies are REALLY good.)

Triple the Ginger Cookies

3/4 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh
ginger root
1/2 cup chopped crystallized
1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ground ginger, baking soda, and salt; stir into the molasses mixture using a wooden spoon. Mix in the fresh and crystallized gingers. Cover, and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Shape dough into 1 inch balls, and place about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

Forget spray and wash

The problem with letting babies "self-feed" is that they get really, really messy.

Here's a sequence from today...

Josiah ate and got really messy.

Mommy gave him a bath.
And Strom "pre-washed" his clothes for him. :)
He did a pretty good job--- Hmmmm, I bet I could have skipped the bath and just put Josiah on the floor too... maybe next time. :)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Elfing ourselves

I know everyone and their brother-in-law has done this lately, but it is FUNNY...

here's the kids:

and here's us "grown ups":

or if you're in the mood for a real laugh:

Nia's recital

Today was Nia's recital... It was SO adorable.

She was very well behaved (not like at the last one when she was the "hitter" :)

It was a nativity story and she was a shepherd...

Here's a few pics-- with Katy (the class assistant, who danced the part of Mary)

and with her teacher, Mrs. Loraine.

A good time was had by all...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Some new features...

You may have noticed the address bar at the top of the screen has been changed to Nick bought that domain name for us.

Also, you can now subscribe to our blog-- type in your email address and you will get an email every time there's a new post...

Also, just had to share a couple of these pics from when I was cutting Nico's hair the other day-- I call this the Mr. Jefferson look...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

This is NOT a trick...

I promise you he was standing up today-- (yes, he was leaning on the couch but he "stood" that way for probably 2-3 minutes...) A few times I was pretty sure he was going to start walking away... HOW CUTE IS HE???

The gingerbread adventure

Wanted to share these pics of our fun the other day...

Everyone helped (except Josiah... he's kind of lazy.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sorry, I can't help myself.

I am a post-a-holic this morning! :)

Just had to share this cute pic of Nico after we shaved his head. What a cutie, huh???

Best message ever

OKay, so yesterday our pastor JOnathan (see his blog here at
gave what I would consider to be the best message I have ever heard. Certainly the best Christmas message I have ever heard.

I implore you to listen to it. Click HERE to go to where you can download it for free.
Click on "The Kingdom of Herod"

Good stuff. REALLY good stuff.

My favorite moment of the day

Many days when Nia wakes up, she is still really groggy and adorable. It is during those times that she professes a need for some "Mommy love."

Yesterday morning she and Nico just sat on my lap and snuggled for several minutes...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A moment of disclosure

Okay, lately I have just been amazed at how DARK Josiah's hair is. It was really starting to look like it is almost going to be black. I have commented to Nick several times how dark it is.

This morning I gave all the kids baths and now (all of a sudden) Josiah's hair isn't black looking anymore. Actually it's light brown-- I would definitely say closer to blond than black. So I thought back to the last time I have given him a bath and ya'll, I just can't remember. Seriously. I am sure it's been at least a week. I think I might have done it the night before his dedication last Sunday? Maybe?

Today was a great day. We went to the Christmas party for Crosspointe staff and elders (and their spouses). Great fun, great friends, great food... A good time was had by all. (Well, except when our friend's locked their keys in the car.)

After that we went over to Nick's parents house to make a gingerbread house. It was A LOT of fun. We have pics on Bev's camera-- I will be sure to share them. We made OUR house. Nick's a big smartie figuring out how to plan it all out.

Well-- off to bed. It's well past my self-imposed December bedtime of 8:00PM. :)

Here's a cute pic of J-man from today wearing his itty bitty old man pajamas from Nana...

Friday, December 7, 2007

cut from the same cloth

Could these two look MORE alike???

Holy smokes.

A sleepless night.

So you know when people say, "I was up all night with the baby." We really were. Josiah (for some reason) didn't sleep last night-- pretty much at all. He wasn't fussy except when you tried to lay him down.

Finally, at 12:30AM we decided to plop him on the living room floor in front of the TV (I know... great parenting strategy). We put on "Baby Faith" (or as Nick and I call it, "Baby Crack") which is the "Christian" version of Baby Einstein. It actually embarrasses me how badly they ripped off Baby Einstein... anywhoo... it was $5 and it's the only movie like that we have on DVD-- AND (most importantly) it's on a LOOP, so it will automatically restart.

Nick spent the first shift (12:30AM-2:30AM) downstairs on the couch sleeping to Baby Faith, and I did the second shift (2:30AM-4:30AM.) At which point he fell asleep. So we just turned it off and left him there. :)

(In case you are wondering, the pink spot on the carpet is Silly Putty.)

Not exactly my proudest parenting moment, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.
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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Decorating the tree

Just a few pics to share:

PS-- Nico is potty training, that's why he's not wearing pants and showing off his underwear... which, btw-- gotta say, itty bitty briefs are soooooo cute!


Okay, so this WAS going to be a pic of my kids sitting on Santa's lap BUT apparently this year at the Cary Towne Center the only way to get a pic of your kids with Santa is to pay for it. You are NOT allowed to bring your own camera and take your own photo. And the cheapest one is $15.99. (plus $9.99 if you want it digitally.) Sorry kids!

So, here's a picture of them after they sat on Santa's lap for about 15 seconds before we were shooed off when they realized we didn't intent to purchase a photo. Not a very friendly Santa either I must say.

It's times like this that I am really glad we tell our kids the truth about Santa.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

God hugs trees...

... and so does Nia.

I came downstairs this morning and she was hugging our Christmas tree.

Nia's pretty serious

Okay, I know I am "that" mother... the one who's always talking about her kids-- I'd say sorry, but I am not. :) I stinkin' love those little guys.

Another Nia funny story from last night. (You may be wondering why I never tell funny Nico stories-- well, I guess we don't really understand what the words "dee boo, ining da, la la" really mean, so he's not very funny to us...but someday we'll probably find out what those words mean and it's REALLY funny... mark my words.)

So we're having a discussion about hoping. We're talking about all sorts of things that we're hoping for and all sorts of things that we have hoped for. And Nick asks, "What is something that you've really been hoping for that hasn't happened yet?" (Nico's answer was (of course) dee boo, ining da, lala.) But Nia said, "My sister." And Nick said, "You're pretty serious about that huh?" And Nia said, "Yeah, I was thinking maybe a little Haitian girl baby, or maybe a Haitian belly baby." (Belly baby is our term for biological kids kids.)

So Nick says, "Let's just hope for a Haitian girl baby. I don't think we are going to get a Haitian belly baby."

And Nia says, "We might Dad. Maybe we WILL get a Haitian belly baby."

And as much as Nick and I have assured her that's not going to happen, she just won't believe it. Is NOW the time for the birds and the bees talk???

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

So is it wrong...

that I am actually excited that I have bronchitis because they gave me cough syrup with codeine?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Something I remember from last year...

So last Christmas season Nia was three years old. We had these ceramic Christmas ball-shaped salt and pepper shakers on the table.

Once while I was upstairs evidently she dropped one on the floor and it broke. She knew she wasn't supposed to touch them, so she covered the whole mess up with a dish towel.

I came downstairs and walked into the kitchen and see this dish towel in the middle of the floor with a suspicious lump underneath. Of course I picked it up and saw what happened. My heart fell as I saw what Nia was trying to do. When I asked her about it she said, "I knew you'd be angry so I didn't want you to see it."

I immediately could relate. Can't we all? Think of the original sin...

From Genesis 3--

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"

10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."

Did Nia really think she could get away with it? Didn't she realize I would see. Who was she fooling? But isn't that so like us? God tells us not to do something, and we go ahead and do it, and then think that we can hide it. And maybe we hide it from others for a time, but we never hide it from God. Just something to think on.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Nightly Light Contest (a Mangine family tradition)

I love Christmas lights. I mean I REALLY love them. That probably came from my dad. He loves Christmas lights and when I was growing up he was a snow plow driver. So he was out driving all over our township at all hours of the night during the Christmas season plowing roads. (I grew up in New Jersey.) Every Christmas Eve after the Christmas Eve service at Three Bridges Reformed Church, we would pile into the station wagon, turn on Christmas music and drive around looking at lights. My dad would save his "favorite" houses to show us that night.

After Nick and I first bought our house about 5 years ago, one of the great joys for us was putting up Christmas lights for the first time. That night we walked around the neighborhood and looked at other people's lights and commented about how ours were better. :)

We were pleasantly surprised by how many people had lights up, so one night we decided to count to see how many people had lights up. The next weekend we decided to walk again and this time we tried to guess at how many people would have lights up. This sort of escalated in the weeks that followed. Each year we've added new "rules" to the contest, and have improved our methods of counting.

So, in case you are wondering, YES! We DO realize we are dorks. But let me share with you the guidelines, rules and procedures for the Nightly Light Contest.

Prior to embarking on the walk, we both silently consider our guess for the nightly count, count to three and say it at the same time. (This may seem juvenile, however, we had some conflict in our family with one family member-- who shall remain nameless-- who had a habit of constantly just waiting for his wife to make her guess and then guess one over.)

We have a set "loop" we walk, with only a little bit of overlap to get to the loop. So, on the way to the loop, we only count on the RIGHT side of the road. Once we reach the loop, we count both on the left and the right. When we've finished counting the loop, we continue with the right side rule until we get back to our cul de sac.

We've recently acquired a "clicker" to keep an accurate count of houses. This has become necessary since we now have small children on the nightly walk who like to distract us and are not very good at counting, so we found ourselves floundering in certainty as to whether or not we had an accurate count. It has worked out well. Tonight Nia tried to claim our number was not right and we showed her the clicker and used our newly coined phrase, "The clicker doesn't lie."

We do NOT count a home until we are passing the driveway of said home in order to not "get ahead of ourselves" and forget whether or not something has been counted.

When passing a cul de sac or side street, we wait until we can see all the houses in the cul de sac and add all the clicks for those houses at once.

There has been a lot of discussion as to what "counts" as a holiday lights. We've come up with the following parameters.
- Any outside lights for the purpose of holiday beautification DO count.
- Any outside lights not specific to the holidays (ie. lamps on a walkway) do NOT count.
- Outside holiday decorations (wreaths, etc) do NOT count, unless they are lighted by a light specifically designed for viewing that decoration. (ie. a spotlight on a holiday display DOES count, a porch light does NOT.)
- Inside holiday lights visible from the outside do NOT count UNLESS the primary purpose of the inside lights is for external adornment. For example, a Christmas tree visible in the window of a home doesn't count. However, lighted candles in the windows DO count.

Lights can ONLY be counted if they are on.

Lights can ONLY be counted when you pass that specific driveway. For example, if you pass a home that has lights up but they are not on, you may not count it, even if you notice later that they ARE on. You may however, wait outside a home to see if lights will be turned on. (Hypothetically, of course.)

The nightly winner is the person who is closest to actual count. If the actual number is evenly in between the numbers guessed by the participants, the participant who guess the higher number will be declared winner.

In theory, you would keep track all season long (each person's guess and the actual number) and determine the seasonal winner. Interestingly, two years ago, I (Gwenn) was the winner in terms of how many nights I was closer, HOWEVER, Nick was closer overall in terms of numbers. (Meaning the nights I was off, I was very, very off.) We have since scrapped keeping track of winners.

I think that's it.

That's the tradition. I know-- pretty dorky-- but LOTS of fun.

PS-- Nick was the winner tonight. I guessed 32, he guessed 39. The actual number was 48.
(Nia guessed 20-- she's not very good at this game.)

Happy Advent!

Advent starts today! Woot woot!

I love advent. Growing up advent was one of the greatest things we did together as a family, and I love how all us girlies have kept the tradition alive in our homes now that we have families and kids of our own. We had a great first night-- Nick's parents were able to be here with us. We used our newly made "advent log" we made at 'the approach.'

I feel a collective sigh in my soul now that Advent is here. Nick and I push really hard all year long and then just sort of try to really slow down in December. It's nice. REALLY nice.

I want to use this season to blog about some of my favorite things about Christmas and advent. So in that vain, my next post will be about my favorite Mangine family Christmas season tradition...